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Black Appalachian Music in the Mountains and Beyond

When Life magazine in its September 1994 special collector's edition on the roots of country music paid tribute to the "100 most important" contributors to country music, it said of Ray Charles that "Charles took back what his people had given." Indeed, people of African descent in the late 1600s gave the South and later Appalachia the banjo, and that instrument, along with the fiddle and the guitar, steel guitar, and other instruments, gave the world country music. The African descendants fashioned the instrument after one often called a banjar, which they and their ancestors had played in various West African countries.

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