Ever since the 70s, Béla Fleck has been obsessed with the banjo. (He introduced its twangy sound into jazz, pop, classical, and world music.) His passion for the instrument has snagged him 20 Grammy nominations in more distinct categories than any other recording artist in the history of the award.
In Throw Down Your Heart, a new film about Fleck, the camera follows the artist to Africa to explore the banjo's roots in the continent and to watch him record a theme album. The movie not only enlightens us about the history of an instrument popularized in America, but it also busts up notions about Africa often depicted as poverty-stricken and AIDS-ridden, but here shown as hopeful and beautiful.
The screening, presented by No Festival Required and The Musical Instrument Museum, takes place at the Phoenix Art Museum.