Welcome to African American Bluegrass

Being of the African American persuasion I had found myself in the minority a lot when in the world of Bluegrass. To my knowledge there were not any others African Americans involved in Bluegrass Music. In the field of Country Music there was always Charley Pride, but not much else. I guess in this realm I was a bit of a trial blazer though getting involved with Unity Bluegrass Band this was not my intention. It was more  "Steve is quitting, do you want to learn bass and replace him?" This was my introduction to becoming a Bluegrass Musician.

Of course I had heard of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs... Had listened to the music in "Bonnie and Clyde" and even watched an episode or thousands of "Beverly Hillbillies" so Bluegrass wasn't completely foreign to me. The first "non-traditional" instrument I took up was banjo. Previous to that in school I learned how to play baritone, trombone and tuba so I was no stranger to performing music and now I had opportunity to become more familiar with this style of music.

In 1974 I first studied banjo with John Carbo at Old Town School of Folk Music on Armitage Avenue in Chicago. There I socialized with many who had a love of music, both domestic and foreign and learned a great deal about our shared traditions. Especially the influences people of color had on these art forms which presently are mostly Caucasian. But again there were not many people of color here who knew or supported this.

But with time comes change, and when I look I am finding more people of color coming and being involved in our long lost traditions and that is why I wish to try to accumulate links of organizations and people who are recapturing our African American Heritage.


I am not nor have I ever professed to be an expert in this.  I am a hobbiest only.  Looking around the web I have observed that there is no place that deals with this subject matter and because of that I have tried to accumulate what sources I can and share them here,  I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information but I will do my best (I am not an expert).

For this reason if you see inaccuracies feel free to alert me to them.  I also would love to have assistance with gathering information as well as publishing works on the history and finer points of the Black influence on American folk, bluegrass and country.

Adrian McKee