Banjo Women in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky
In the fall of 1997, we began our search for women banjo players in Appalachia; primarily in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. Our equipment was light—a Marantz tape recorder and a Nikon camera. Our intellectual baggage weighed even less—anecdotal evidence that Appalachian women had historically played what is considered to be America’s first musical instrument. I had read the two major monographs on the banjo available at the time: Karen Linn’s That Half-Barbaric Twang, and Cecilia Conway’s Black Banjo Echoes in Appalachia, neither of which included banjo women in the southern mountains.

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