In addition to the travel resources in the Plan Your Trip section of the website, we are delighted to provide the following resources and programs that will assist as you explore African American heritage and cultural traditions in North Carolina in a deeper way.

Traditional Artist Directories

The traditional artist directories listed below are useful tools for presenters such as arts centers, colleges and universities, festivals, arts councils, schools, and civic organizations seeking traditional artists to work in their communities as well as a resource for individual and organizations looking to find the right artistic skill set and experience for the job they need done. We encourage you to make use of these other directories as well in your research.

North Carolina Heritage Award Recipients

Cherokee Heritage Trails Artist Directory

Piedmont Council of Traditional Arts

Traditional Artists Directory of the Blue Ridge Heritage Area



African American Heritage Commission of North Carolina

Angela Thorpe

North Carolina Folklife Institute

The North Carolina Folklife Institute helps communities across the state connect their heritage arts and traditions to local development, education, and active citizenship. It documents folklife, preserve and promote North Carolina’s diverse traditional arts and cultures, and strengthen the folklife infrastructure in the state. The Institute works with partners ranging from universities, state government, and museums to local community groups and traditional artists.

The Folklife Institute offers the following books on African American heritage and culture in the online store:

A Singing Stream: A Black Family Chronicle

The story of a gifted African American family from the rural South.

When My Work is Over

Louise Anderson (1921–1994), the gifted African American storyteller who played Dark Sally in Tom Davenport’s children’s classic Ashpet: An American Cinderella, tells her family stories and folk tales, and recites poetry in this film taped in Jacksonville, N.C., in the last years of her life.

Born for Hard Luck and Free Show Tonight

A portrait of the last Black medicine-show performer, Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson, filmed at a North Carolina county fair in 1972.

Menhaden Chanteymen: Won’t You Help Me To Raise ‘Em

Recorded in 1989 at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Beaufort, the dozen songs on this cassette are traditional work songs of a coastal Carolina menhaden fishery.

Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia

The sounds and social history of African American banjo playing – 32 instrumentals and vocals, recorded between 1974 and 1997.

George Herbert Moore: Roots and Shoes

Roots and Shoes is George Herbert Moore’s second album. He is a native of Burgaw and well-known Wilmington performer.

Joe Thompson: Family Tradition

Released in celebration of Joe Thompson’s 80th birthday, Family Tradition contains some of his very best recordings.

Music Maker Relief Foundation

224 West Corbin Street
Hillsborough, NC  27278

The Music Maker Relief Foundation was founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Music Maker will give future generations access to their heritage through documentation and performance programs that build knowledge and appreciation of America’s musical traditions. Music Maker sponsors concerts, CDs, exhibits, and other events.

Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

1317 W. Pettigrew Street
Durham, N.C. 27705

The Center for Documentary Studies is the first institution in the United States dedicated solely to the rich legacy and continuing practice of the documentary tradition in the American experience.



Bull City Soul

The website, launched by Carolina soul music expert Jason Perlmutter, historian Joshua Clark Davis, and graphic designer Lincoln Hancock in collaboration with the Durham County Public Library’s North Carolina Collection, will bring the story of local rhythm and blues, funk, soul and their place in musical history to life.

Chicago Jazz Archive

Guide to African-American Documentary Resources in North Carolina

Soul Recordings from the Carolinas for fans of Funk and Soul.

North Carolina Central University’s jazz station.

WOOW 1340 AM radio – The Greenville-based station broadcasts gospel music.



Here are some important African American events and festivals to explore.

African American Culture Festival of Raleigh and Wake County

African American Cultural Celebration, N.C. Museum of History

Jonkonnu at Tryon Palace



Beach Music: History and Myth

by Brendan Greaves and M.C. Taylor

What is Seabreeze?

An article by Ben Steelman in the Wilmington Star News in 2009

Performing Culture in Music and Dance. African American Heritage and Ethnography

by the National Park Service


Documentary Recordings

Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia CD released in 1988

The sounds and social history of African American banjo playing including 32 instrumentals and vocals, recorded between 1974 and 1997. The recordings are annotated with performer’s life histories, tunings, lyrics, bibliography, and discography. The banjo’s gourd ancestors came to the Americas with enslaved Africans, forging the link between West African griots and performers of 20th-century blues and string-band music. 64 minutes.



African-American Sheet Music, 1850-1920: Selected from the Collections of Brown University

This collection consists of 1,307 pieces of African-American sheet music dating from 1850–1920. It includes many songs from the heyday of antebellum black face minstrelsy in the 1850s and from the abolitionist movement of the same period. Including:

Durham Public Library: African-American Funeral Programs

The Kelly Bryant Funeral Program Collection is housed in the North Carolina Room. Please contact the North Carolina Collection at 919-560-0171 for access to this collection.


Educational Resources

National Education Associations

Black History Month Lessons & Resources, Grade K-5

Musical Harlem

Students will learn to identify musical styles and musicians associated with Harlem, focusing on jazz and will learn about the special role of music in Harlem as a unifier of a community and of a culture. Students can listen to audio samples and analyze elements of jazz and its musicians, participate in a group dance activity, and partake in language arts and visual arts extensions to reinforce key concepts learned.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns

The resources offered here are designed to help you use the PBS Jazz video series and companion web site in music, social studies, math and language arts classes.


ArtsEdge: The Kennedy Center

Blues Journey

A lesson of the history of the blues by Kip Lornell with audio samples.

Twelve-Bar Blues

Examining the history of the blues: students will learn about the history of blues music and important figures of this genre. Additionally, some of the key vocabulary and compositional techniques associated with the blues will be taught. Students will compose a melody, using a 12-bar blues chord progression and present their melodies to the rest of the class.

The Poetics of Hip Hop

Analysis of hip hop music and lyrics can provide students with a greater understanding of rhythm, form, diction, and sound in poetry. Students will analyze form in Shakespearean sonnets and then analyze hip hop music to determine common characteristics between Shakespeare’s work and the music of hip hop artists. Students will reinforce their understanding of the connections between hip hop and poetry through close analysis of the works of the poet Nikki Giovanni and hip-hop artists Jurassic 5, and through the creation of their own poetry.



The Blues Classroom

Materials include downloadable lesson plans, blues discography and bibliography, video clips from the Blues film series, audio clips of significant blues recordings, the blues teacher’s guide CD, and printed teachers guide.

Blues as African American History

This lesson enables teachers to use blues music to explore the history of African Americans in the 20th century. By studying the content of blues songs, students can learn about the experiences and struggles of the working-class Southerners who created the music, including the legacies of slavery and the cotton economy in the South, the development of Jim Crow, the Great Migration, and the Civil Rights Movement.

The South the North and the Great Migration

A preponderance of African American cultural expressions in the first half of the 20th century focus on the oppressive conditions of the Jim Crow South, attempts to escape this climate by migrating North, and myth versus reality of life in the North. These themes cut across African American literature, music, and art. This lesson specifically explores how the lives and work of blues musicians and African Americans intersected and complemented one another.

Blues Geography

This lesson enables teachers to use blues styles and performers to think about various geographical regions of the United States. By studying different blues styles from the Mississippi Delta, Texas, and the Piedmont region of the Southeastern Coast, or from cities like Memphis and Chicago, students can explore regional geography and culture while also learning about the effects of different environments on musical styles, the relationships between natural resources and social organization, and the cultural legacies of migrations of people from region to region in the United States.

Poetry: Blues Style

This lesson focuses on how the blues both operates as poetry and informs the poetry of many prominent African American poets. Students consider the poetic devices and recurring themes in blues lyrics and the significance of the poetry of the blues as part of the African American oral tradition. Given the tie to this tradition, blues music inevitably impacted the writing of many African American poets—both formally and thematically.


Smithsonian Education

The Blues and Langston Hughes

Students learn the structure of the blues stanza, both in music and in the blues-based poems of Langston Hughes. This set of lessons is divided into grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12. Younger students compose their own three-line blues poems. Older students listen for details of the Great Migration in recordings of rural and urban blues from Smithsonian Folkways.


Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

National Jazz Curriculum

An internet-based jazz curriculum designed to be taught in every 5th, 8th, and 11th grade public school American history and social studies classroom in the United States. The curriculum examines the evolution of jazz styles, contributions of important performers, and musical techniques involved in the creation and performance of jazz.


National Endowment for the Humanities

The Freedom Riders and the Popular Music of the Civil Rights Movement

The participants of the civil rights movement recognized the power of song and performance and utilized this form of cultural communication in their quest for equal justice under law. The popular music of the early 1960s offers a unique and engaging entry point into the politics surrounding equal rights in mid-20th century America.


This lesson plan introduces students to the role that spirituals have played in African American history and religion starting with a review of factors that contributed to the development of the spiritual, which reflects the influence of African religious traditions, Christian traditions, and the conditions of slavery. Students explore the community-building power of this combination by listening to a performance of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” one of the best-known spirituals. They then turn to the 19th-century biography of Harriet Tubman to examine how she used spirituals as a secret signal to fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. Students reconsider the impact of the line from “an old Negro spiritual” with which Martin Luther King, Jr., ended his famous “I Have A Dream” speech and the influence of spirituals on his speaking style. To conclude the lesson, students collect spirituals by interviewing family members, friends, and acquaintances, in order to investigate how deeply this African American religious tradition has woven itself into American culture, and share similar songs that reflect their heritage.

Learning the Blues

This lesson introduces students to the blues, one of the most distinctive and influential elements of African-American musical tradition. Students take a virtual field trip to Memphis, Tennessee, one of the prominent centers of blues activities, and explore the history of the blues in the work of W. C. Handy and a variety of country blues singers whose music preserves the folk origins of this unique American art form.


Voices Across Time: American History Through Music

The Voices Across Time Teachers’ Resource Guide

This guide contains an introductory essay, recommended techniques for using music in the classroom, and nine units that can be used together or separately. Each unit covers a different historical era that corresponds with the divisions used in most U.S. history texts and the U.S. History Standards. Each era is organized into six themes drawn from state and federal Social Studies Standards, such as diversity, politics, war and peace, and faith and ideals as well as how music reveals the everyday world of work, family, and home life. Scholarly experts selected authentic songs from each period that represent the major events, concepts, or figures from that era reflected in the national U.S. history standards.