#InTheWater

Exclusive Premiere of Brooke Simpson's “In the Water” Concert at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts in Rocky Mount

Come Hear North Carolina
February 13, 2020

Brooke Simpson, a Haliwa-Saponi vocalist, songwriter, and finalist on NBC’s hit talent-competition show “The Voice,” is the latest North Carolina musician to take part in Come Hear North Carolina’s series “In the Water.

Created in 2019 for the official North Carolina Year of Music, “In the Water” is an intimate online concert video series showcasing the places that shape the sounds and souls of participating musicians. Video recordings of “In the Water” sessions by Rhiannon Giddens, the Mountain Goats, Mary Lattimore and Vanessa Ferguson are available here.  

Simpson chose the Dunn Center to record her “In the Water” session last September because she performed there shortly after finishing third place on “The Voice,” in 2017. 

“We’ve done a lot of shows since I had my time on ‘The Voice,’ but the energy in this room. . .  was like nothing I’d ever experienced,” says Simpson. “I wanted to come back here.” 

Born and raised in Hollister, N.C., Simpson grew up in an evangelical family that traveled the South singing and preaching the gospel, and she joined her parents’ music ministry at the age of seven. Simpson reflects on her early musical experiences, her identity as a Native American woman and her gospel roots throughout her “In the Water session. 

Watch Brooke Simpson's "In the Water."

Simpson performs “Little Bit Crazy,” “Perfect,” “Faith,” (a tribute Simpson wrote in the aftermath of the 2012 murder of fellow Haliwa-Saponi Faith Hedgepeth) and “Took Me Out of Egypt,” which features her parents, Mike and Jimille Mills.

Previous “In the Water sessions presented Mary Lattimore performing from the Chapel of Rest, in historic Happy Valley, near Lenoir, N.C. (located between her hometowns of Asheville and Shelby), while discussing the impact of North Carolina on her music. Greensboro native Vanessa Ferguson then performed at the childhood home of Nina Simone, in Tryon, N.C., as part of an effort to save and preserve Simone’s birthplace. The Mountain Goats debuted their song "Let Me Bathe in Demonic Light" in John Coltrane's birthplace of Hamlet, N.C., and discussed the jazz great's immense influence on the band. Rhiannon Giddens paid tribute to the victims of the Wilmington insurrection of 1898 for her “In the Water” session at Cucalorus Film Festival’s headquarters. 

 

Best In The Water Moments of 2019

Come Hear North Carolina
December 27, 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, we are reflecting on some of the biggest moments of Come Hear North Carolina this year. We’ve compiled our five favorite moments from In The Water, our live session series that chronicles the spaces and places that shape the sounds and souls of North Carolina musicians, below.

Mary Lattimore’s Performance of “Otis Walks In The Woods”

She may be one of America’s most renowned avant-garde harpists, but Mary Lattimore got her start right here in North Carolina. Raised in Shelby and Asheville, N.C., Lattimore premiered In The Water with a beautiful performance inside the historic Chapel of Rest located in Happy Valley. The halfway point between Mary’s childhood homes, the warm, sunlit interiors of the Chapel of Rest beautifully complimented the near-perfect acoustics offered by the church. Lattimore’s song “Otis Walks In The Woods” (which begins at the 9:30 minute mark) is a tribute to the loss of a beloved family dog from her childhood and team favorite from the shoot. Lattimore possesses the unique musical gift of turning the most ordinary topic – a family dog’s graceful exit – and the most cerebral – an astronaut’s return to earth from space (see “For Scott Kelly, Returned to Earth” at the 17:20 minute mark) – into something beautiful.

Vanessa Ferguson's Performance of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”

Serendipity abounded around our Nina Simone programming this year. Fate smiled upon us when the National Trust for Historic Preservation declared the Civil Rights icon and music legend’s childhood home in Tryon, N.C. a national treasure the same year Governor Cooper declared 2019 the Year of Music. It also smiled upon us the day of Vanessa Ferguson’s In The Water tribute to Nina Simone. We’d planned to do the shoot outside, but a major summer thunderstorm forced us inside Simone’s childhood home for the session. It was hot and humid, and we were racing against the clock with the sun going down, but the acoustics and the vibe were eerily perfect inside the home. Vanessa Ferguson was channeling The High Priestess of Soul, and her rendition of “Feeling Good” (minute 8:14) is bone-chillingly good.

John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats Finally Declares North Carolina Home

There is often a narrative in the South that you have to be born here to be from here. A little less than six minutes into The Mountain Goats’ In The Water session, lead singer John Darnielle says he’s never loved a place like he’s loves his home in Durham, N.C. He returns to the sentiment at the 16-minute mark of the session and jokes about the moment a friend of his confirmed that Darnielle can now speak about North Carolina as someone who is from here. Like so many musicians and music fans we’ve engaged this year, John is a North Carolina transplant but if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that our music heritage and arts community is a magnet for talent and visitors – and it’s often a defining reason people choose to relocate to North Carolina and call it home.

Rhiannon Giddens performs "Pretty Saro"

After months of preparation and planning for this shoot, our location fell through at the very last minute. Dan Brawley from Cucalorus Film Festival came through in the nick of time and offered us a space to film with less than an hour’s notice. That improvisational spirit continued throughout the shoot. Just as we were wrapping the session, Giddens offered to perform a song she'd originally not planned to sing that day – “Pretty Saro,” a traditional ballad taught to her by N.C. Heritage Award recipient Sheila Kay Adams, which turned out to be one of the signature moments of the day. Watch that at 2:45.

 

Watch Rhiannon Giddens Perform a Traditional Ballad in Our New In The Water Session

Come Hear North Carolina
December 5, 2019

Last week we premiered Rhiannon Giddens' In The Water session. She opens the 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.

"I think that song in particular is a very important one to sing now," says Rhiannon. "There've been so many different waves of immigrants here. They all have the same fears and sorrows and reasonings for leaving where they left. Nobody leaves their homeland with a song on their lips. It's always thinking about what they're leaving behind."

Watch Rhiannon sing "Pretty Saro" in the video below. 

 

 

The Root on Rhiannon Giddens' In The Water

December 2, 2019

You heard it from The Root:

Rhiannon Giddens is nothing if not prolific; the Grammy award-winner and Macarthur Genius Award recipient may have initially made her mark as co-founder and lead vocalist of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, but her musical acumen spans genres. From the roots music of her banjo-based all-female super-quartet Our Native Daughters (earning her one of two Grammy nominations for 2020) to her work as the host of the opera podcast Aria Code (a nod to her past as an opera singer), Giddens, who also received the inaugural Legacy of Americana Award at the Americana Honors and Awards in Nashville this year, seems to possess limitless musical prowess—and an equally strong reverence for history.

Check out Maiysha Kai’s whole write-up on our new In the Water with Rhiannon Giddens here and listen to Rhiannon speak on the events of 1898 in Wilmington followed by a performance of “At the Purchaser’s Option” below.

 

Rhiannon Giddens Pays Tribute to Victims of the Wilmington Insurrection in Latest Installment of Come Hear North Carolina’s In The Water Series.

November 26, 2019

 

Rhiannon Giddens, the Macarthur Genius Award recipient and Grammy Award-winning co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, is the latest North Carolina musician to take part in Come Hear NC's live session series In The Water. Giddens also received the inaugural Legacy of Americana Award at the Americana Honors and Awards in Nashville this year, was featured prominently in Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary series and is a current Grammy nominee in the Best American Roots Performance category for her collaboration with the Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, as well as in the Best American Roots Song category for her work in the group Our Native Daughters. Giddens' In The Water session follows performances from The Mountain Goats, Mary Lattimore and Vanessa Ferguson at unique and meaningful locations throughout the state. 

For Rhiannon's In The Water session, the Greensboro native took the Come Hear North Carolina team across the state to Wilmington - to share the too-often-forgotten history of the Wilmington insurrection of 1898. The tragic events of that year saw a white supremacist mob take over the city of Wilmington, burn and destroy African American-owned businesses and take an untold number of African American lives. Before the insurrection, Wilmington was considered to be one of the South's great examples of a city coming together in Reconstruction. This episode of In The Water was filmed at the headquarters of the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington. 

Giddens on the importance of remembering the events of 1898: "It is so hard because things were working...They weren’t perfect but things were working....and for that to not be knocked down but completely destroyed, stamped out and then forgotten about, that’s just tragic. The people who died it was tragic – the fact that we don’t even know all who died is tragic...All of these things are tragic."

 

In the extended version of her In The Water session, Rhiannon performs "Pretty Saro" (a traditional ballad taught to Rhiannon by N.C. Heritage Awardee Sheila Kay Adams, "At the Purchasers Option," and "He Will See You Through."

 

Previous In The Water sessions included Mary Lattimore performing from the Chapel of Rest in Historic Happy Valley, near Lenoir, N.C. (located between her hometowns of Asheville and Shelby), while discussing the impact of North Carolina on her music. Greensboro native Vanessa Ferguson then performed at the childhood home of Nina Simone in Tryon, N.C. as part of an effort to save and preserve the historic birthplace of the high priestess of soul. The Mountain Goats debuted their brand new song "Let Me Bathe In Demonic Light" in John Coltrane's birthplace of Hamlet, N.C. and discussed the jazz great's immense influence on the band. 

Each episode of In The Water features a three-to-four-song performance, as well as environmental footage and narration from the artist, to paint a picture of the spaces – both literal and metaphorical – that shape the sounds and souls of each musician.

In The Water is the latest addition to this year’s Come Hear North Carolina festivities, a celebration of the state’s rich musical history from the North Carolina Arts Council and North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Recent events included “Nina Simone Weekend” at North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and “Music at the Mansion,” an unprecedented concert series filmed at the North Carolina Executive Mansion.

The Mountain Goats Debut New Song in Latest “In The Water” Live Session

October 16, 2019

The roots of American music run deep in North Carolina, and the diversity of our music mirrors the diversity of our musicians’ creative homes. In the Water is a special limited video series for the 2019 North Carolina Year of Music that highlights the symbolic and literal places that shape the sounds and souls of North Carolina musicians. Each episode of In The Water features a North Carolina musician performing a unique location across the state.

In this episode, the Mountain Goats, a Durham, N.C. based indie folk group, performs at the Hamlet Depot & Museum in southeastern North Carolina. John Darnielle , the frontman of the band, wanted to perform in the town where jazz titan John Coltrane was born: Hamlet, N.C. Built in 1897, the Hamlet Depot is the only Victorian Queen Anne style train station in the state, and it was once a bustling transportation hub and major north-south and east-west crossroads for passenger and freight trains. This performance was recorded in the summer of 2019.

For the latest session, the band premieres a new song, “Let Me Bathe in Demonic Light,” at the historic train depot in Hamlet, N.C. - the hometown of John Coltrane. Songwriter and guitarist John Darnielle also discusses what North Carolina means to him as a musician and why he picked Coltrane’s hometown to debut a new song.

Special thanks to The Hamlet Depot & Museum for their support of the project. Watch the full performance below.

the Mountain Goats perform: "In League with Dragons," "Possum by Night," "Let Me Bathe in Demonic Light," and "Rain in Soho" at the Hamlet Depot & Museum in John Coltrane's Birthplace.

Previous In The Water sessions included Mary Lattimore performing from the Chapel of Rest in Historic Happy Valley, near Lenoir, N.C. (located between her hometowns of Asheville and Shelby), while discussing the impact of North Carolina on her music. Greensboro native Vanessa Ferguson then performed at the childhood home of Nina Simone in Tryon, N.C. as part of an effort to save and preserve the historic birthplace of the high priestess of soul. Upcoming episodes of In The Water will include a session with Brooke Simpson, a Hollister, N.C. native, member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe and 2017 finalist on The Voice. 

Each episode of In The Water features a three-to-four-song performance, as well as environmental footage and narration from the artist, to paint a picture of the spaces – both literal and metaphorical – that shape the sounds and souls of each musician.

In The Water is the latest addition to this year’s Come Hear North Carolina festivities, a celebration of the state’s rich musical history from the North Carolina Arts Council and North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Recent events included “Nina Simone Weekend” at North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and “Music at the Mansion,” an unprecedented concert series filmed at the North Carolina Executive Mansion.

Exclusive Premiere of Vanessa Ferguson's In The Water Concert at Nina Simone's Childhood Home

August 21, 2019

Today we are thrilled to share the second installment of In The Water, our live session series that sheds light on the spaces and places that inspire some of North Carolina's most renowned musicians. In this episode, Vanessa Ferguson, a Greensboro artist who gained national fame and fans as a finalist on NBC's "The Voice," performs Nina Simone's classics in the home where Simone developed her love for the piano and which is now the subject of a major rehabilitation effort led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Vanessa Ferguson | Full Come Hear North Carolina In The Water Concert

This performance was commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a part of their larger effort to save Nina Simone's childhood home.

"It has truly been an honor to record for the In The Water series in an effort to promote the campaign to restore the home of the incomparable Nina Simone,” said Vanessa Ferguson. “The preservation of history and art have shaped me into the artist that I am today.”

The Nina Simone childhood home, which has been vacant for decades, was scheduled for demolition when four New York City based artists purchased it in 2016. In June 2018, the National Trust declared the home a National Treasure and, with support from World Monuments Fund and key state and local partners, is now working to stabilize the home, protect it, and develop future uses for the site that honor the legacy of Nina Simone. The public is invited to participate by contributing to a crowdfunding campaign now underway, which has drawn the support of John Legend and Issa Rae.

“Our collaboration with the National Trust takes our year-long music celebration to a new level,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Having a talented artist like Vanessa Ferguson performing in Nina Simone’s childhood home is a perfect way to give voice to this important restoration project.”

Come Hear North Carolina and the National Trust also recently partnered with the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the N.C. Arts Council to host “Nina Simone Weekend,” a series of events at the North Carolina Museum of Art that included a special concert featuring Nina’s daughter, Lisa Simone, on Saturday, August 17. Proceeds from the concert benefit the campaign to rehabilitate her childhood home.

Come Hear NC unveils In the Water live session series with stunning Mary Lattimore performance from historic Happy Valley's Chapel of Rest

August 7, 2019

Come Hear North Carolina premiered In The Water, a live session series featuring North Carolina musicians performing in unique, meaningful locations in the state, today as part of the Year of Music celebration.

In The Water kicks off with an episode featuring the renowned avant-garde harpist Mary Lattimore, who grew up between Asheville and Shelby before launching an impressive solo career that has included collaborations with indie rock luminaries like Arcade Fire, Kurt Vile, and Mac McCaughan. This debut episode sees Mary perform at the Chapel of Rest in Historic Happy Valley, near Lenoir, N.C. (located halfway between Asheville and Shelby) while discussing the impact of North Carolina on her music.

“North Carolina is always a place that I’ve come to,” says Lattimore who currently lives in Los Angeles. “No matter where I am, I always come home. I love living in big cities, but there’s also part of me that likes to be very quiet, and I think that comes from being around those kinds of environments growing up.”

Billboard has shared an excerpt from the first episode of In The Water, which features Mary performing “It Feels Like Floating” from her 2018 album Hundreds of Days mixed in with reflections on childhood summers at Atlantic Beach, N.C. that helped inform the song. This extended version also includes performances of her original compositions, “Otis Walks Into The Woods” and “For Scott Kelly, Returned To Earth.”

Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council, was on site for Lattimore’s performance.

“Happy Valley in western North Carolina is where the Yadkin River tumbles off of the Blue Ridge escarpment into the foothills of the western piedmont. The beauty of the valley is matched by the richness of local culture; in particular, residents express themselves through their music traditions, which range from fiddle tunes to chamber music, from folk ballads to church hymns and from piedmont blues to swing and jazz standards,” Martin said. “It seems fitting that Mary Lattimore, who first learned to play the harp in the North Carolina mountains and weaves diverse musical genres into her compositions, should perform an In the Water concert at the historic Chapel of Rest.”

Mary Lattimore | Full Come Hear North Carolina In The Water Concert
Liza Plaster, of the Chapel of Rest Preservation Society, explains the history of the church which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The original Chapel of Rest was built in 1887 at the request of Samuel Patterson. The chapel was used by attendees of the Patterson School, a boarding school adjacent to the church. A fire destroyed the original building in 1916, but the church was rebuilt in 1917. In 1984 a group of passionate community members formed the Chapel of Rest Preservation Society and obtained the lease and later the rights to restore the church. In 2005 the Chapel of Rest was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and it is used today for arts programming and weddings. Learn more here.

Upcoming episodes of In The Water will feature performances from The Mountain Goats in Hamlet (John Coltrane’s hometown), Rhiannon Giddens in Wilmington (where she is currently writing a musical about the city’s insurrection of 1898), Snowhill, N.C. native Rapsody, and a special performance from Vanessa Ferguson (The Voice) at Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon. Each episode of In The Water will feature a three- to four-song performance, as well as environmental footage and narration from the artist. The goal is for these elements to collectively paint a picture of the spaces - both literal and metaphorical - that shape the sounds and souls of each musician.

In The Water is the latest addition to this year’s Come Hear North Carolina festivities, a statewide celebration of the state’s rich musical history from the North Carolina Arts Council and North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Come Hear North Carolina’s Nina Simone Weekend at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh is scheduled for August 16 to 18 in partnership with the National Trust and the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. Funds raised from the weekend’s programming, which will include a performance by Nina Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone, will be used to restore the childhood home of Nina Simone.

This year the First Lady of North Carolina Kristin Cooper and Come Hear North Carolina also launched Music at the Mansion, an unprecedented concert series filmed at the North Carolina Executive Mansion. Throughout 2019 Come Hear North Carolina is also sponsoring various creative endeavors from local artists (most recently The Listening documentary on Durham hip-hop group Little Brother) and has formed partnerships with the Americana Music Association, Yep Roc Records, Merge Records, MerleFest, Hopscotch Music Festival, the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Wide Open Bluegrass Festival and more.

For more information visit www.ComeHearNC.com.

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