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Today we are featuring a conversation with the world’s preeminent banjo player, Béla Fleck. Over the course of his four-decade career, Béla has won numerous Grammys in a variety of surprising genres including Jazz, Latin, Pop, and Classical. Last year, his latest release, My Bluegrass Heart, scored the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.

In addition to Béla’s innovative style and expert technique, he is also an advocate for keeping the banjo’s rich historical tradition alive. In 2008, Béla made a pilgrimage to Africa to trace the origins of the banjo in the documentary Throw Down Your Heart.

On today’s episode Bruce Headlam talks to Béla Fleck about growing up in New York City where he first fell in love with the banjo while watching the Beverly Hillbillies. Béla also talks about how jazz giants like Chick Corea and Charlie Parker influenced his highly technical style. And, Béla explains why he believes the banjo is far superior to the guitar.

Listen a playlist of some of our favorite Béla Fleck songs HERE.

The Hosts

Rick Rubin

In addition to being a podcast host, Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder…

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is co-founder of Pushkin Industries and host of the hit podcast Revisionist History. He is a journalist, a speaker, and the author of several New York Times bestsellers including The Tipping…

Justin Richmond

Justin Richmond is producer and co-host of the music podcast Broken Record with writer Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times editor Bruce Headlam, and music producer—and Def Jam co-founder—Rick Rubin. Justin…

Bruce Headlam

Bruce Headlam is one of the co-creators of the music podcast Broken Record. He worked at The New York Times for 19 years, including two years running the 50-person Video…