10 facts about musician Jake Blount

March 4, 2022

Jake Blount performs in the Davis Theatre this Friday, March 4 at 8 pm. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at https://bit.ly/jakeblount for $30. Want to learn more about him before seeing him live?

Here are 10 facts we thought you’d like to know:

10. Jake is an award-winning banjo player who earned the prestigious Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2020. He’s also a two-time winner of the Appalachian String Band Festival, better known as Clifftop.
 
9. Jake isn't only an award-winning musician. He’s also a scholar of ethnomusicology - the study of music from the cultural and social point of view of the people making it. Jake earned a B.A. in ethnomusicology from Hamilton College, and has since shared his research generously with institutions like the Smithsonian Institute and Yale University.

8. His performances focus on the old time, roots and bluegrass music of Black and indigenous communities in the southeastern United States. Songs like his newly released single, “The Man was Burning,” come from old spirituals he’s unearthed and changed lyrically and otherwise to give a modern turn.

7. Greatly affected by the fatal shooting of 17-year old Trayvon Martin, Jake began studying spirituals while he was still in high school. A descendent of slaves himself, he sifted through old spiritual books that belonged to his grandparents, searching for clues as to how the enslaved might have dealt with the violence of modern times.

6. He’ll probably open your eyes about a few things. Maybe you didn’t know the banjo is a descendant of several African instruments, or that up until the 1830s only people of color played the instrument. Maybe you didn’t realize that the African-American community has provided one of the pillars for country music and bluegrass. Both the genre and subgenre truly are melting pots with contributions from many groups of people.

5. Jake is working to break down barriers and stereotypes about bluegrass music. He serves on the board for Bluegrass Pride, an organization that promotes bluegrass as music for all, regardless of race, age, gender or political views.

4. Jake played electric guitar in a rock/punk band in high school, but switched to acoustic instruments after hearing musicians play them in an Ethiopian restaurant in Washington, D.C.

3. The musician plays multiple instruments, including the fiddle.

 2. On the road, Jake has opened for Rhiannon Giddens of the GRAMMY-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. In 2018, the Carolina Chocolate Drops was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Read about them at Carolina Chocolate Drops - North Carolina Music Hall Of Fame.

1. Jake’s albums have been featured in Rolling Stone Country and Billboard Pride, and continue to make “Best of” lists created by NPR, The New Yorker and the Guardian.

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