I went with the unconventional answer because… well, I think there were a number of factors that all converged at the perfect time for Earl to have established such a strong influence… and clearly, my answer is the affects in American music… Instead of the influence of Banjo in World music context.
Why did I choose that insight or perspective? Because of the nature of the question itself about whether the collective we - ultimately being here.
It was the timing (so often a factor in paradigm shifts) with the recording industry and its’ expanding distribution, Radio in those times, the emergence of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass style, the method and artistry behind it… and so much more.
The whole ‘Monkeys with typewriters writing a classic’ Theory comes to mind. Sure, it may have happened one day… but in this special case with the Banjo being considered a “Parlor Instrument” of a past era… puts another strong factor on the instrument’s use in any modern music context (of the 1940s, I mean)…just seems to me that it was the perfect storm.
The fact that the question is tough to answer with such limited options is exactly why I liked it.
By the way, the nature of the transition of Earl deciding to leave Bill and Bill’s hurtful efforts to keep the “Genie in the bottle” by intimidtion… as in my humble opinion, Bill saw the genuis emerging and a testament to Earl… but that Earl just had to leave… without intention to start his own thing at that time (he decided to play with Lester later so it was NOT an Exodus thing to leave Bill) as I read in Earl’s book.
As Earl went out on his own, it is just so symbolic of soooooo many artists who had to walk their own path in pursuit of their definition of expression and excellence.
Many times, these splits… but sometimes… these moves alter history and have true genius emerge… that surpasses the humble origin… almost as it it would not be denied… or that it was destiny.