Abigail Washburn is a world-class banjo player who is best known for her unique combination of American and Chinese folk music traditions. Tonight she performs with husband and fellow banjo star Bela Fleck at Memorial Hall. Diversions Editor Allison Hussey talked to Washburn about playing with Fleck and balancing being a mom and a touring musician.
DAILY TAR HEEL: You had your first child last year but have kept up a pretty regular touring schedule. How has it been bringing him along on tour, and how have you found having a child has changed how you approach music?
ABIGAIL WASHBURN: Gosh, the baby has turned my world totally upside down in a wonderful way. My prime directive in life is taking care of this little baby, so all of a sudden everything else is just second or third priority. As a result, it’s kind of funny — the things I used to get sort of up tight about with music or — yeah, up tight is really the word for it, anxious — sometimes I would get anxious about performing in front of people or trying new music.
SEE THE SHOW
When: Tuesday, 7:30 pm
Where: Memorial Hall
More Info: https://www.carolinaperformingarts.org/
Things like that have lost their power because I’m so wrapped up with trying to learn how to be a mother that music and performing are the things that I realize I know how to do well. So I just don’t worry about them as much. It’s really kind of great. So I have this effortlessness to my performing and my creating music that I never have experienced before. And what a surprising outcome.
I really thought that having a baby would make it more anxiety-ridden because I’d have less time to practice, I’d have less time to think in advance and prepare and calculate my next moves — all those things. And it’s just so strange that this little critter coming into my life and making me feel like a novice at being a mother and entering this whole other realm of caretaking has impacted my whole professional and musical life in a way that has brought me ease in sort of the sense that I just have to do this, because this is all I have time to do, and it’s what I’m good at. So let’s go do it. That’s been a major relief.