In celebration of the Year of Music, WUNC Music launched a new series that explored North Carolina music one song at a time called Come Hear NC on the Songs We Love. All year they asked people from the music community to talk about a song that said something about our home state. They brought in musicians, writers and club owners to talk about the songs they love with WUNC’s Eric Hodge. We highlighted six of our favorite episodes (listed alphabetically) below.
Laura Ballance is the bassist for Chapel Hill based rock band Superchunk and co-founder of the acclaimed Durham-based indie label Merge Records. Back in March she talked with Eric Hodge about Black Mountain native Roberta Flack’s “Compared to What.” Her first exposure to North Carolina music was in second grade when she heard her parent’s Roberta Flack First Take record, which features the track. “This song to me is an expression of that frustration and powerlessness that people were feeling at the time,” says Laura. “It's a protest song against the lack of progress in the civil rights movement and the general kind of political climate going on at that time."
Typical Songs We Love episodes clock in at around 10 minutes, but that just isn’t enough time to dive into all of North Carolina’s musical offerings. To close out the decade, North Carolina Arts Council Music Director Carly Jones joined hip-hop DJ Mir.I.Am and Eric Hodge to talk for an hour about how the last 10 years shaped North Carolina’s music scene.
Dom Flemons has made a name for himself as someone prepared to correct the record. His time with the Carolina Chocolate Drops saw the group reclaiming string band music for the people of color who helped define the genre, and on his most recent album, the Grammy-nominated Black Cowboys, he tells the story of the Black, Latino, and American Indian people who helped shape the Wild West. On this episode of Songs We Love, he talks to Eric Hodge about the often overlooked Pete Seeger tune “Cindy,” recorded with North Carolinians Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. He describes the song as, “Pete Seeger’s party dance mix in a type of way, with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.”
Come Hear North Carolina was the main stage sponsor for IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass, and in preparation for her performance and tribute set at the festival, Alice Gerrard chatted with WUNC about Elizabeth Cotten’s folk-staple “Freight Train.” Written when she was just a teenager, Gerrard describes the song as, “Simple, but it conjures up beautiful images of after death, hearing that train that you love, and the train is such a feature of Southern music."
Early in the year, Come Hear North Carolina launched the podcast series “Director’s Cut” which saw N.C. Arts Council Executive Director Wayne Martin sit down with producer Sandra Davidson to premiere and discuss field recordings collected over the last three decades. In this episode of Songs We Love, Wayne Martin brings his recording of Etta Baker and John Dee Holeman’s performance of “Crow Jane,” which features a rare moment of Etta Baker singing.
Come Hear North Carolina partnered with Hopscotch this year, helping them celebrate the festival’s 10th birthday. Before the festivities kicked off, Hopscotch director Nathan Price stopped by WUNC to talk about the North Carolina anthem “Raise Up” by Snow Hill’s Petey Pablo. The perfect song to start a party with, Nathan reminisces on what it felt like as a young North Carolinian to hear a chart-topping song dedicated to his home state.