Cover art work for Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabaté's The Ripple Effect.

Toumani Diabaté & Oumou Sangaré Feature In Béla Fleck's Expansive 'Throw Down Your Heart' Sessions

Béla Fleck explores the roots of the banjo across West Africa.

World-renowned banjoist Béla Fleck shared the Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions earlier this year. The expansive 3-disc collection includes a new duo album from Béla Fleck and kora master Toumani Diabaté, titled The Ripple Effect.

Today, we're getting a first look at a track-by-track break down of some of the songs from Throw Down Your Heart—which explores the roots of the banjo in West Africaand The Ripple Effect. Artists like Mali's Oumou Sangaré, Tanzania's Anania Ngoliga, Madagascar's D'Gary and Uganda's Nakisenyi Women's Group also feature on the release.

"Throw Down Your Heart documents my trip to Africa to interact with great acoustic musicians, and looks into the roots of the banjo, which originated in West Africa and came to the Americas with the slaves," says Béla Fleck. "The title references the prisoners being transported to the slave ships, who 'threw down their hearts' when they realized they'd never see their homes again."

Throw Down Your Heart - Track by Track (Audio)

"The trip was one of the great experiences of my life, and has changed my perspective and musical experience forever," Fleck continues. "This trip would have been impossible to do in today's world. Back then it was challenging in many ways, but doable."

"As a New York City kid, it has always been mystery to me why I was so attracted to the banjo as a youth, despite no natural connection to country or folk music. Perhaps that's why the white southern stereotypes have bothered me so much, and although I deeply love the music of Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass and Old Time canons, I have often felt like a bit of an outsider in that world."

"When the Flecktones were going well, I wanted to use my banjo celebrity to let anyone who would listen know about the African roots of the banjo, and remind them about its role in early jazz, and American music. But the most selfish reason I went to Africa is because I wanted to play with the incredible musicians you see in the film, and hear on the recordings."

Watch a track-by-track breakdown and visualizers from Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions above and below.

Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions - Track By Track

Image: Ian Watts

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