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 talk

Abigail Washburn on the TED Blog