Music at the Mansion with The Hamiltones

Come Hear NC
January 29, 2021

Nearly a year ago, J. Vito, Tony Lelo, and 2E—known to the world as the Grammy-nominated trio The Hamiltones—made their way from the greater-Charlotte area to Raleigh to kick off the second season of Music at the Mansion. Close to 100 people packed into the golden parlor room of the North Carolina Executive Mansion that night and were treated to an hour of the group’s songs, jokes, and stories of North Carolina soul music. 

Their Music at the Mansion performance premiered Wednesday night at the Americanafest UK. We are unveiling the video to the public for the first time ever today. 



Known for their masterful harmonies and viral social media videos, The Hamiltones got their start as background vocalists for the Grammy-winning rhythm-and-blues soul singer Anthony Hamilton, who is from Charlotte. They released their debut EP, “Watch The Ton3s,” in 2019, and followed it with “Watch The Ton3s (The B Side),” in February 2020. 

Introducing a cover of Al Green’s hit song “Let’s Stay Together,” Lelo said, “We’re young in age, but we’re pretty up there in heart. We like the older songs. To us, the older songs had a little bit more feeling, a little bit more heart, a little bit more passion.” That sound translates to their own music, too, and can be heard in the Carolina roadway love song “HWY 74” and the foot-stomping, hand-clapping jam “Gotta Be Lovin’ Me,” both of which the trio performed at Music at the Mansion, with the help of Terrence Baize on bass and samples. 

First Lady Kristin Cooper created Music at the Mansion, a video concert series highlighting the diversity of North Carolina’s music, in celebration of the 2019 Year of Music project Come Hear North Carolina. The series was made possible with support from the North Carolina Arts Foundation. 


“This is a mind-blowing experience,” said J. Vito, on the evening of the band’s performance. “We’re thankful. We’re humble. We’re grateful.” 

The Hamiltones’ performance was the first and last of Music at the Mansion’s second season. Less than a month after that February 19 show, COVID-19 found its way to North Carolina, and our ability to gather has been disrupted since. As people retreated from packed concert halls to the safety of their homes, musicians quickly pivoted. Come Hear NC and The Hamiltones soon reunited for Under One Roof, a virtual benefit concert that saw the group making musical magic from the now all-too-familiar video conference squares we all have used to stay connected over the past year. 

The Music at the Mansion performance linked here captures the joy of being in a music-filled room—surrounded by strangers and friends, sharing in a collective experience—that has been missing from our lives since last March. The world was a much different place on February 19, 2020, but as we cope with the pandemic and its impact on the art world, we can regard this concert footage as a talisman of something to look forward to. It’s also a reminder of what an important role the arts play in enriching our lives—pre-, during, and post-pandemic.



Videographers: Matt Zeher, Laura Casteel, Greg Snyder, Tom Normanly

Audio: Matt Zeher

Editing: Matt Zeher

Producers: Carly Jones, Samuel Gerweck, Sandra Davidson

Photography: Karen Blum