When I attended the 2015 National Folk Festival here in Greensboro, NC, I remember being amazed at the sheer breadth of musical traditions represented and that there could be so many ways to express our experience of the human condition. Growing up listening to my mother’s collection of bluegrass, americana, and acoustic music, I, like many North Carolinians, was no stranger to folk, but I had never considered that the genre could be so expansive. I find that the value in exposure to new traditions lies not only in helping us to better understand and live in community with one another, but also in the new vocabulary we gain to understand our own identities and place in the world.
Fusion, the practice of combining two or more musical genres, is just one of the ways artists from around the world have been deconstructing, exploring, and reconciling the rich and complex layers of their own identities and the lasting consequences of war, immigration, colonialism, and globalization. This playlist provides only a small sample of the international community of artists participating in folk fusion, but with its wide range from Ghazal poetry, Malian and Western blues, Celtic folk, afrobeat, Senegalese mbalax, Cuban rumba, Emberán chanting, hip hop, jazz, and soul, I hope it embodies the North Carolina Folk Festival’s spirit – exposure to new forms of art and culture that can enrich our lives and our communities, often in unexpected and powerful ways.
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