Culture bearer Jake Blount, who will be a master mentor in Black Banjo & Fiddle Fellowship's project. Photo: Mike Melnyk.

Black Banjo & Fiddle Fellowship

Old-Time Banjo and Fiddle Music

About the Organization

Black Banjo & Fiddle Fellowship is a new, project-based organization founded by an ongoing collaboration between two nonprofit organizations, Music is Extraordinary, Inc dba Oakland Public Conservatory of Music (OPC) and Berkeley Old Time Music Convention (BOTMC). Founded in 2005, OPC centers African American heritage in the development of American musical culture and identity. It offers free and low-cost masterclasses, after-school activities, performances, workshops, and community events by local and international artists, as well as a host of nationally and internationally acclaimed musicians from the African Diaspora. BOTMC, now in its 19th year, focuses on old-time music with an emphasis on culture bearers, including many NEA Heritage Fellows and Black old time culture bearers. OPC and BOTMC’s collaborations have included free community workshops and performances at OPC, the most recent being two workshops by cultural expert and banjo player Tony Thomas in 2021.

 Earl White, one of Black Banjo & Fiddle Fellowship’s master mentor musicians, plays “Old Cumberland”.

Living Cultures Grant


Black Banjo & Fiddle Fellowship

In 2022, Black Banjo & Fiddle Fellowship, supported by ACTA’s Living Cultures Grant Program, will pair four “Fellows” (accomplished musicians from the Bay Area) with old-time music tradition bearers and cultural experts for mentorship and instruction. Midway through the project, the Fellows will establish and begin an ongoing old-time music program at Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, which will involve lessons and open jams for old-time music.


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