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  • If you had caught me straight out of college

  • in the halls of the Vermont State House

  • where I was a lobbyist in training

  • and asked me what I was going to do with my life,

  • I would have told you

  • that I'd just passed the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi,

  • the Chinese equivalency exam,

  • and I was going to go study law in Beijing,

  • and I was going to improve U.S.-China relations

  • through top-down policy changes

  • and judicial system reforms.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • I had a plan,

  • and I never ever thought

  • it would have anything to do

  • with the banjo.

  • Little did I know

  • what a huge impact it would have on me one night

  • when I was at a party

  • and I heard a sound coming out of a record player

  • in the corner of a room.

  • And it was Doc Watson

  • singing and playing "Shady Grove."

  • Shady Grove, my little love

  • Shady Grove, my darlin' ♫

  • Shady Grove, my little love

  • Going back to Harlan

  • That sound was just so beautiful,

  • the sound of Doc's voice

  • and the rippling groove of the banjo.

  • And after being totally and completely obsessed

  • with the mammoth richness and history

  • of Chinese culture,

  • it was like this total relief

  • to hear something so truly American

  • and so truly awesome.

  • I knew I had to take a banjo with me to China.

  • So before going to law school in China

  • I bought a banjo, I threw it in my little red truck

  • and I traveled down through Appalachia

  • and I learned a bunch of old American songs,

  • and I ended up in Kentucky

  • at the International Bluegrass Music Association Convention.

  • And I was sitting in a hallway one night

  • and a couple girls came up to me.

  • And they said, "Hey, do you want to jam?"

  • And I was like, "Sure."

  • So I picked up my banjo

  • and I nervously played four songs that I actually knew with them.

  • And a record executive walked up to me

  • and invited me to Nashville, Tennessee to make a record.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's been eight years,

  • and I can tell you that I didn't go to China to become a lawyer.

  • In fact, I went to Nashville.

  • And after a few months I was writing songs.

  • And the first song I wrote was in English,

  • and the second one was in Chinese.

  • (Music)

  • [Chinese]

  • Outside your door the world is waiting.

  • Inside your heart a voice is calling.

  • The four corners of the world are watching,

  • so travel daughter, travel.

  • Go get it, girl.

  • (Applause)

  • It's really been eight years since that fated night in Kentucky.

  • And I've played thousands of shows.

  • And I've collaborated

  • with so many incredible, inspirational musicians around the world.

  • And I see the power of music.

  • I see the power of music

  • to connect cultures.

  • I see it when I stand on a stage

  • in a bluegrass festival in east Virginia

  • and I look out at the sea of lawn chairs

  • and I bust out into a song in Chinese.

  • [Chinese]

  • And everybody's eyes just pop wide open

  • like it's going to fall out of their heads.

  • And they're like, "What's that girl doing?"

  • And then they come up to me after the show

  • and they all have a story.

  • They all come up and they're like,

  • "You know, my aunt's sister's babysitter's dog's chicken went to China

  • and adopted a girl."

  • And I tell you what, it like everybody's got a story.

  • It's just incredible.

  • And then I go to China

  • and I stand on a stage at a university

  • and I bust out into a song in Chinese

  • and everybody sings along

  • and they roar with delight

  • at this girl

  • with the hair and the instrument,

  • and she's singing their music.

  • And I see, even more importantly,

  • the power of music to connect hearts.

  • Like the time I was in Sichuan Province

  • and I was singing for kids in relocation schools

  • in the earthquake disaster zone.

  • And this little girl comes up to me.

  • [Chinese]

  • "Big sister Wong,"

  • Washburn, Wong, same difference.

  • "Big sister Wong, can I sing you a song

  • that my mom sang for me

  • before she was swallowed in the earthquake?"

  • And I sat down,

  • she sat on my lap.

  • She started singing her song.

  • And the warmth of her body

  • and the tears rolling down her rosy cheeks,

  • and I started to cry.

  • And the light that shone off of her eyes

  • was a place I could have stayed forever.

  • And in that moment, we weren't our American selves,

  • we weren't our Chinese selves,

  • we were just mortals

  • sitting together in that light that keeps us here.

  • I want to dwell in that light

  • with you and with everyone.

  • And I know U.S.-China relations

  • doesn't need another lawyer.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

If you had caught me straight out of college

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B1 US TED banjo chinese china grove shady

【TED】Abigail Washburn: Building US-China relations ... by banjo (Abigail Washburn: Building US-China relations ... by banjo)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/10/16
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