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Fox News: Prof. Lawing Discusses African American Influence on Appalachian Music

Bill Lawing on Fox
Bill Lawing explains the banjo's origins are in West Africa.

J. Estes Millner Professor of Music Bill Lawing appeared on Fox News' Good Day program Thursday morning to discuss the African American influence on Appalachian music.

"We think of the banjo as the quintessential Appalachian instrument," Lawing said, but its origins are not Scotch-Irish, as were the early settlers in the Piedmont region. Rather, it originally came from West Africa through the West Indies. While there is little to no written record of the history and origins of Appalachian music, the African influence on the Scotch-Irish people and their music is undeniable, as evident in the music itself, Lawing said.

Lawing teaches a course on Appalachian music and this month is participating in a lecture series funded by the North Carolina Humanities Council that explores how African Americans shaped North Carolina music from the 18th-20th centuries. In his lecture, 3:30 p.m., Feb. 19, at the South County Regional Library, he will discuss the unique ways in which African Americans helped influence the distinct sound of Appalachian North Carolina's folk music.

Watch the Fox News segment.