There is no other instrument in the world that is able to both excite and intrigue me with just one note the way that the banjo can. I have always been a sucker for a song with a banjo in it. There is something so fun, so home-y about the music that is created at the hands of this instrument. In fact, there is one man who knows the in’s and out’s of a banjo like no other…Bela Fleck. In his documentary Throw Down Your Heart, Bela Fleck travels to Africa to reunite the banjo with its home roots. Along the journey he stops off at several different corners of Africa to play and record with a few of the locals who incorporate music into every part of their day.
“In everything that one does music is there. If somebody has lost a relative their crying is musical.”
With each region Bela Fleck visits he comes across numerous musicians who are proud to share with him their own songs. From the relatives of an African music legend, to a female thumb piano player, to one of the last traditional tribes in Africa each bring a sound uniquely their own. However, the one man who stood out the most to me was Walusimbi Nsimbambi Haruna, a professional folk musician. In one part of the film Haruna takes Fleck to Lwanika Village where he was born and where his late father is now buried. Here he sings a song about Death with Fleck playing right alongside him. This performance is both beautiful and heart wrenching. The way it has Haruna weeping after the song has finished just goes to show how profound music can be as well as the memories that are woven within it.