Abigail Washburn pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, creating results that feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody's ever heard before.

Why you should listen

If American old-time music is about adopting earlier, simpler ways of life and music-making, Abigail has proven herself a bracing challenge to that tradition. A singing, songwriting, Chinese-speaking, Illinois-born, Nashville-based, clawhammer banjo player, Abigail is every bit as interested in the present and the future as she is in the past, and every bit as attuned to the global as she is to the local. From the recovery zones of earthquake-shaken Sichuan to the hollers of Tennessee, she pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, and the results feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody’s ever heard before. To put it another way, she changes what seems possible.

Abigail Washburn’s TED talks

Abigail Washburn on the TED Blog

Quotes from Abigail Washburn

In that moment, we weren't our American selves, we weren't our Chinese selves; we were just mortals, sitting together in that light that keeps us here.
Abigail Washburn
TED2012 • 841K views Apr 2012
Inspiring, Beautiful
I see the power of music to connect cultures. I see it when I stand on a stage at a bluegrass festival … and I bust out into a song in Chinese, and everybody's eyes just pop wide open.
Abigail Washburn
TED2012 • 841K views Apr 2012
Inspiring, Beautiful