Bela Fleck

Named after composer Bela Bartok, Bela Fleck seemed destined to go the classical music route. Instead, he took his musical influences from Chick Corea, Charlie Parker, Aretha Franklin, and the Byrds and morphed into one of the world's most innovative banjo pluckers. A New York native, Fleck picked up his first banjo at the age of 15 and began to play be-bop in high school. Fleck spent the 1980s establishing himself in the country-bluegrass world and formed the Flecktones in '89 with Howard Levy, Victor Lemonte Wooten, and Roy "Future Man" Wooten. The Flecktones released a self-titled debut album in 1990 with their fresh take on bluegrass dubbed "blu-bop." The group's relentless touring and progressive bluegrass approach have won them a number of Grammys and a loyal fan following.