Posted inArts & Culture

Folk musician at African-American music festival explains how ‘instruments became my Black power’

Hubby Jenkins, a Grammy-nominated, multi-instrumental, old-time American folk musician, performed in Fort Worth on March 18, but his journey to becoming a performer had unexpected beginnings.

After an argument with a girlfriend at a party, he kicked everyone out and popped in a CD — the first song that played was “Devil Got My Woman,” by Skip James.

“That changed my whole life. I was like, ‘I’m going to play guitar,’” Jenkins said. “My very next paycheck I bought a guitar. Hearing how powerful one person with a guitar can be — this man can do it with just his guitar and voice — I want that superpower.”

Jenkins plays the mandolin, guitar, bones — a folk instrument that consists of two wooden or metal sticks that resemble animal bones — the harmonica, drums and banjo — all instruments prominent in Blues music. He played a few of those instruments on March 18 at the Fort Worth African American Roots Music Festival at the Southside Preservation Hall, 1519 Lipscomb St.

“Being Black and learning about your culture, I went to public school, you learn some things, but not everything. Having this music for me is opening the door to learn more,” Jenkins said. “Playing these instruments became my Black power.”

He explained his relationship with the banjo, which was created by enslaved Africans before later becoming a ‘traditionally” Southern, white instrument. He felt like he was invading a space that wasn’t his when playing the banjo.

“My granddad used to say, ‘That’s not a Black instrument,’” Jenkins said. “But when you come (to) a space like this, it’s not like that. We get to be. We get to be with each other and play. Black music. Roots. Love. Utopia.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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