Bluegrass Artist Jayme Stone Blends Genres from Africa to Appalachia

Jayme Stone
Jayme Stone
The Hamilton College Performing Arts Series opens the spring semester on Friday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. in Wellin Hall on the Hamilton College campus when banjoist Jayme Stone and Malian kora master Yacouba Sissoko build a boundary-crossing musical bridge in their groundbreaking new collaboration, Africa to Appalachia.

Knowing the modern banjo evolved from an instrument brought to America by slaves, Canadian composer and bluegrass artist Jayme Stone traveled to West Africa to seek out the roots of the banjo. What he found was the musical culture that spawned the many branches of roots music. As he began searching for the banjo’s surviving ancestors, the Canadian virtuoso became curious about what aspects of African music did not make it across the ocean with slavery. “The culture of slavery in North America, which nobody likes to talk about, was clearly not the best context for an authentic and meaningful cultural transmission of music,” Stone explains. “I wanted to find out how music is made on their turf.”

The album that came out of Stone’s African trip, Africa to Appalachia, won a 2009 JUNO Award for World Music Album of the Year. Blending genres and styles of music is not new to Stone, whose teachers have included BelaFleck and Bill Frissel. He says “Blending genres is like trying to braid water: you quickly find out it’s all one thing anyway.”

The Jayme Stone Quartet is Jayme Stone, banjo; Brandi Disterheft, bass; Mike Barnett, fiddle; and Nick Fraser, percussion. They are joined by gringot singer and kora player Yacouba Sissoko. A kora is a 21-string African harp.

Tickets for this event are $15 adult/$10 senior citizen/$5 student. All seating is general admission. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the box office at (315) 859-4331 or visit www.hamiltonpa.org.

Contact Information

Media Relations Office

198 College Hill Road 
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4680 pr@hamilton.edu
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