North Carolina is among the most celebrated musical states in America — a place that gave the world Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Nina Simone, Superchunk, the Piedmont blues, beach music, and more. Beyond the obvious headliners, however, the Old North State has also contributed more than its fair share of mysteries and legends to the wider story of popular music. Here are seven such tales.
In a typical choral performance, singers file onto a stage, climb risers, and arrange themselves by sections; soprano, tenor, bass, and alto singers stand shoulder to shoulder, primed to create collectively a big, beautiful sound known and loved by many. But it’s a tradition that requires two elements that are non-negotiable during the coronavirus pandemic: large gatherings and close proximity to other people. Following a trend directly related to performance cancellations these days, the North Carolina Master Chorale is going virtual.
Last spring, the Steep Canyon Rangers joined in celebrating 2019 as the Year of Music in North Carolina by putting together a special Sunday afternoon set at MerleFest that highlighted our state’s musical offerings through their bluegrass lens.
The Hamiltones are a Grammy-nominated trio of North Carolina natives. We spoke with the band about their special chemistry and North Carolina musical influences in an interview captured after their 2019 Art of Cool Festival performance.
Rhiannon Giddens opens her In The Water set with an a capella performance of "Pretty Saro," a traditional ballad taught to her by N.C. Heritage Award recipient Sheila Kay Adams. The ballad chronicles the tale of an immigrant to the United States longing for the lover they left behind in their home country.
Asheville’s psychedelic revolution began, not with a bang but with a raga. A nod to the Indian motifs being woven into progressive rock during the late ’60s, “Acid Raga Pt. 1 & 2” was conjured in a sleepy iteration of Asheville, considered by most to be a retirement community.
After completing his master’s degree in Folklore at the University of North Carolina, Tim Duffy set out to Winston-Salem to find a musician by the name of Guitar Gabriel. After following some local leads, he finally heard the elusive blues guitarist and was moved to “introduce Gabe and his music to any possible audience.”