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Béla Fleck / Blog

BÉLA Fleck Africa Project

BÉLA FLECK JOURNEYS ACROSS AFRICA TO EXPLORE THE ORIGINS OF THE BANJO AND CREATE SOME OF THE MOST MEANINGFUL MUSIC OF HIS CAREER

THROW DOWN YOUR HEART / TALES FROM THE ACOUSTIC PLANET VOL. 3 / AFRICA SESSIONS (MARCH 3RD / ROUNDER RECORDS) FEATURES COLLABORATIONS WITH OUMOU SANGARE, TOUMANI DIABATE, ANANIA NGOGLIA, RICHARD BONA, BABA MAAL, VUSI MAHLASELA, THE ZAWOSE FAMILY & MANY MORE, RECORDED ON LOCATION IN UGANDA, TANZANIA, THE GAMBIA AND MALI

AWARD-WINNING FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY THROW DOWN YOUR HEART TO OPEN IN 2009

U.S. TOUR DATES CONFIRMED FOR BÉLA FLECK / THE AFRICA PROJECT, FEATURING TOUMANI DIABATE, VUSI MAHLASELA, ANANIA NGOGLIA AND D’GARY

Burlington, MA – “I developed the suspicion that some of the greatest acoustic music on earth is hidden in the small villages in Africa,” says banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, who embarked on a musical adventure across Africa from January – March 2005 to explore the little-known origins of the banjo and play with great African musicians. Produced, edited, mixed (and financed) by Fleck, Throw Down Your Heart / Tales From the Acoustic Planet Vol. 3 / Africa Sessions (March 3rd, Rounder Records) is his most ambitious and complex project to date.

“The idea has been residing in my subconscious for so long, I don’t even know exactly when it started. Perhaps it was when I discovered where the banjo originally came from, and from hearing field recordings throughout the years - of tantalizingly beautiful music from Africa,” adds Béla, a 10-time Grammy® winner who has introduced the instrument into jazz, pop, classical and world music settings during his 30-year career.

Traveling to Uganda, Tanzania, the Gambia and Mali, Fleck transcended barriers of language and culture. He developed both musical and personal connections with a wide array of musicians – from local villagers who played a 15-foot marimba resonating over a pit in Nakesenyi, Uganda (“Wairenziante”), to the blind singer/ thumb piano player, Anaia Ngolia (“Kabibi” was recorded in a hotel room on the Indian Ocean beach in Bagamoyo), to the “songbird of Mali” Oumou Sangare (“Ah Ndiva” is one of my favorite tunes from one of my all time favorite artists,” adds Béla).

Recorded in Mali with n’goni master (the banjo of Mali) Bassekou Kouyate, the tune “Throw Down Your Heart” was written by Fleck in Africa after hearing stories about slaves first seeing the sea in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. “We were told that slaves were transported east in much greater numbers than the slaves that went west to the Americas. When they saw the sea, they realized they would never see their homes again, and they “threw down their hearts.”

This spring and summer, look for Béla Fleck / The Africa Projects, featuring a rare, memorable line-up of musicians featured on Throw Down Your Heart. Toumani Diabate is often hailed as the greatest kora player in the world, guitarist Vusi Mahlasela - simply known as “the voice” - connects South Africa’s Apartheid-scarred past with its promise for a better future. Fleck considers blind thumb piano player and vocalist Anania Ngolia a kindred spirit, and D’Gary is a fingerstyle guitar hero who adapts the traditional music of his home country, Madagascar.

To compliment the album, Béla and director Sasha Paladino captured 250 hours of footage leading to the documentary film Throw Down Your Heart. The feature-length documentary has earned five awards in 2008 at film festivals worldwide and will open in the spring of 2009.

For more information, please contact: Carla Parisi at Kid Logic, kidlogic@nj.rr.com | 973-563-8204 or Jennifer Sacca at Rounder Records, jsacca@rounder.com | 617-218-4503

www.belafleck.com // www.throwdownyourheart.com // www.rounder.com