Gayle Wald

Gayle Wald teaches at the George Washington University. She is author, most recently, of It’s Been Beautiful!: “Soul!”  and Black Power Television, about the acclaimed TV showcase (1968–73). A musical theater adaptation of her biography of gospel trailblazer Rosetta Tharpe, Shout, Sister, Shout!, opens in the summer of 2017 at Pasadena Playhouse.
February 21, 2017

No person living today knows exactly what an 1850s minstrel banjo sounded like; the music that was made on such instruments predates the invention of recorded sound. But we know that the banjo was brought to America by Africans, and that white players, including Thomas F. Briggs—author of the first banjo instruction book, an invaluable resource for historians and musicians—learned from black banjoists. When Giddens composes for or performs on her banjo, she channels both the history and the mystery of early American banjo music: what has been passed down as well as what has been lost.