June 11, 2012

Banjo Troubador Abigail Washburn: The Power of Music to Connect Hearts. ~ Stewart J. Lawrence

“If you had caught me straight out of college in the halls of the Vermont statehouse where I was busy working as a lobbyist in training, and asked me what I was going to do with my life, I would have told you that I just passed the Chinese equivalency exam and I was going to go study law in Beijing. I was going to improve US Chinese relations through top down policy change and judicial system reforms.”

Luckily for us, Abigail Washburn never made it. Instead, inspired by the great bluegrass singer Doc Watson, she picked up a banjo and began singing folks song in Chinese and English, to the delight of audiences in both countries.

Now, eight years later, Washburn remains a stolid and humble presence on stage and in person, and a powerful reminder of what following your heart’s dream—and staying humble—can mean for you and the ones you touch.

Train, study, embrace your skills and your advanced learning. Then freely share it with others. And don’t forget to listen to their stories—and make those stories your own.

“Travel, daughter, travel. Go get it Girl.”


Stewart J. Lawrence is a lifelong snoop, sneak, critic and scribe. He credits his Sephardic Jewish father for his affinity for the Spanish-speaking world, his poetic sensibilities, and his unflinching desire to speak truth to power. His mother, who largely raised him, did her best to endow her son with common sense, financial acumen, and a spirit of generosity toward his fellow man—largely to no avail.  Stewart formally renounced the small, dull, grubby world of the bourgeois householder at age 50—and has no intention of turning back; however, on the advice of his attorney, he has agreed to comply with all outstanding warrants and alimony requests. When not navel gazing alone in perfect bliss under a Banyan tree, he contributes regular articles on Latino affairs, immigration, presidential politics, and yes, yoga, to the Guardian, Counterpunch, Huffington Post, the World and I, and the Los Angeles Times. He is co-author, with John Barton, of Four More Years: the Overwhelming Case for President Obama’s Second Term (forthcoming, June 2012).

Editor: Anne Clendening

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