by Hannah Mayree

Greetings Everyone! We are hoping this message find you all in a good place. We have good news to share today about the our most recent project! The weekend of October 14 – 16 was a historic moment for the Black Banjo Reclamation Project as we rallied together with a unique and special group of Black artists and cultural workers to create hand-built banjos over a four-day period. 

This banjo building instruction and facilitation was led by Sule Greg Wilson and Patrice Strahan. I (Hannah Mayree) was in a production support role, and I was care taking my baby as he joined for his very first banjo build as well! 

The builders joined from all around the country— Arizona, Chicago, and the Bay Area, as well as Nashville, our base of operations for the build. We were in a rural area outside of town where our connection to the land was prevalent and strong. We all had deep intentions as we joined together for this musical, cultural journey of joy and banjo stewardship. 

Such deep gratitude is held for everyone who was able to be present and make it possible for each person to complete their project. People have backgrounds in dance, organizing, sound engineering, ceramics, violin making, cooking, and so much more. Being able to support the community to add these crafting skills and weave our cultural stories at the same time was and will remain impactful as we can co-create more opportunities like this one for years to come!

A special thanks to our host, Mehuman Ernst, who is a musician, organizer, and farmer herself. Thank you so much to you and your family for supporting the BBRP being so well taken care of in a space where we could both work and stay. 

Thank you to the IBMA Foundation, the Arnold Shultz Fund, and to Pisgah Banjos for supporting us with a $10,000 project grant which subsidized this project and made it possible to support our materials, space rental, and our teaching staff with funds designed to support Black and artists of color in bluegrass music. 

We are ending this year on an extremely positive note. We look forward to sharing more as the impact if this project radiates and we prepare for another year of developments and collaborations!

As we look toward a liberated future we are celebrating all the ways that BBRP is growing with the support from all of you. Thank you so much for the support, patience and understanding the unfolding of this project as a practice of liberation that we do to honor the past, present and future. Much gratitude and thank you for witnessing and being part of this journey!

Return to the November 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.