Just in case you aren’t familiar with Béla Fleck, there are some who say he’s the world’s premier banjo player. Others claim that Béla has virtually reinvented the image and the sound of the banjo through a remarkable performing and recording career that has taken him all over the musical map and on a range of solo projects and collaborations. If you are familiar with Béla, you know that he just loves to play the banjo, and put it into unique settings.
Béla was born on July 10,1958 and raised in New York City. While watching The Beverly Hillbillies as a young boy, the bluegrass sounds of Flatt & Scruggs flowed out of the TV set and into his young brain. Earl Scruggs’ banjo style hooked Béla’s interest immediately. “It was like sparks going off in my head,” he later said. The banjo didn’t become a full time passion until ’73, when his grandfather coincidentally bought him one.In recent years he’s found himself bouncing between various intriguing touring situations, such as duos with Chick Corea, Chris Thile and Abigail Washburn, in a trio with Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer, performing his concertos with symphonies, concerts with the Brooklyn Rider string quartet, performances with African artists such as Oumou Sangare and Toumani Diabate, in jazz collaboration with The Marcus Roberts Trio, rare solo concerts and doing bluegrass with his old friends. And after nearly 30 years, the Flecktones are still performing together.
The recipient of multiple Grammy Awards and nominations going back to 1998, Béla Flecks’ total Grammy count is 15 Grammys won, with 30 nominations (as of 2020). He has been nominated in more categories than any instrumentalist in Grammy history.