On Thursday, October 10, 2019 baritone Sidney Outlaw from Brevard, N.C. and pianist Warren Jones, who was raised in High Point, N.C. closed out the 2019 Music at the Mansion season with a bang. The golden-hued ballroom of the Executive Mansion served as the perfect backdrop for their musical offerings, and Sidney Outlaw’s powerful baritone had no trouble filling the space.
The pair, who met years ago at Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, C.A., treated their captive audience to a genre-spanning evening, opening with a particularly grandiose version the instantly recognizable “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s Barber of Seville opera before addressing the attendees with their intentions for the upcoming performance. Warren Jones announced there would be a change of pace in the form of a song cycle by Harry Burleigh. Burleigh was an African American composer from the early 1900s who was forced to publish his music out of Italy because American publishing houses wouldn’t allow black composers at that time. The song cycle’s lyrics came from turn-of-the-century English poet Laurence Hope, a pseudonym for Adela Florence Nicholson, taken on because she could not get her poems published as a woman. Later in the evening, they presented a series of spirituals - a genre that Harry Burleigh helped introduce to the classical world - drawing a line between highly trained musicians and composers and the field songs sung by African American slaves.
Art and music education was another underlying thread of the evening. Sidney recognized his vocal coach from his time at UNC Greensboro in the crowd, thanking her for introducing him to the world of art songs before treating the crowd to one of her favorites - an aria from Die tote Stadt. In an interview right before the set, when asked “Which North Carolina musician would you like to have a meal with,” Warren Jones answered with a lump in his throat that he would love the chance to talk to his piano teacher from his youth, a soft-spoken but strict woman who instilled the love of music and the importance of hard work in a young Warren that has stuck with him to this day.
Passion. Acceptance. Bravado. Expertise. These are only a few of the words you could use to describe these two artists and their season-closing performance.
Towards the beginning of Charly Lowry’s Music at the Mansion performance, her band stepped back and Charly took center stage, holding only a hand drum. She took the opportunity to speak about how her identity as a woman intersects with her work as a Native American musician. She spoke about her relationship with fellow Native American singer-songwriter Pura Fé, the significance of the hand drum to her culture, and the UNC-Chapel Hill origins of her anthem for women, “Brown Skin."
“Growing up and seeing my mother sing in the gospel circuit created in me this drive to want to do something. I never forget she [once] took me by a church cemetery and she said, ‘There’s people in here who could sing like Whitney [Houston]…who could sing like [the] amazing artists of the world, but they chose to stay here. She said ‘Take the opportunity and go and do whatever you need to do and go out into the world and share your gift with the world.’ And so I always try to do that in any way, shape or form.”
- Kyng Bea
This week we published a new installment of Music at the Mansion which featuring singer-songwriter Charly Lowry performing with a team of talented North Carolina musicians including pianist and pop artist Kyng Bea (Brandon McClean).
Born and raised in Raeford, North Carolina, Kyng Bea’s first exposure to music came through his mother, a popular gospel singer who taught him the basics of piano. Last year the vocal and musical talents of Kyng Bea and his fellow Music at the Mansion performer Alexis Raeana awarded them a trip to Los Angeles to audition for a spot on American Idol.
First trained as a pianist, in recent years Kyng Bea has focused on highlighting his vocal abilities which are apparent in the latest Music at the Mansion.
Take a listen to Kyng Bea’s solo work below.
Catch Kyng Bea performing live with Charly Lowry this Sunday at the N.C. Museum of History. Details here: https://pinecone.org/events/charly-lowry-friends
Tomorrow Charly Lowry and the same group of musicians from her recent Music at the Mansion concert will perform at the N.C. Museum of History. In the hours before their Music at the Mansion set, we asked them to answer the following question: If you could have dinner with any North Carolina musician - past or present - who would you pick and what would you eat? Here's what they had to say:
“Today we live in a society where it’s legal to be Indian, and as all of us who have American Indian roots and grew up in native homes…to be here in this mansion is quite historic to say the least.”
- Alexis Raeana
Yesterday we published Charly Lowry's Music at the Mansion which features her performing with a team of talented North Carolina musicians including Alexis Raeana Jones. Last year the vocal and musical talents of Alexis and her fellow Music at the Mansion performer Brandon McClean (Kyng Bea) awarded them a trip to Los Angeles to audition for a spot on American Idol.
In 2015 Alexis was crowned Miss Lumbee, an award given during an annual pageant held during Lumbee Homecoming, a summer event featuring a powwow, parade and community events every July. Like Charly, Alexis is known for proudly representing the Lumbee tribe through her musical and professional work.
Last month, a video of Alexis and Charly singing The Star Spangled Banner at UNC-Pembroke's Moonlight Madness went viral. Catch it below!
On Wednesday, August 28, 2019 singer-songwriter Charly Lowry played a set at the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh for the Music at the Mansion series, an ongoing program of Come Hear North Carolina hosted by Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper.
Charly Lowry was born and raised in Robeson County, North Carolina, the geographic and spiritual epicenter of the Lumbee Native American Tribe of which she is a member. She is known for using her music to shine a light on the culture and traditions of the Lumbee people.
"Music I would say is very central in our lives just because there so many talented people that it’s undeniable," said Charly. "I've had a love affair with music and wanting to entertain since I was a toddler. It's always been something that makes me feel alive."
Charly interweaves stories about her musical roots, Robeson County, and historic indigenous musical and cultural pioneers throughout her 60-minute set, which features support by a talented group of musicians from her home community.
Recent American Idol contestants Alexis Raeana Jones and Brandon McClean (Kyng Bea), accompany Charly on vocals and piano respectively; Aaron Locklear joins her on drums, Jonathan Locklear on guitar, Zachary Hargett on bass, and Shawn McNeil on guitar and saxophone.
“It’s a very prestigious honor,” said Charly on the opportunity to perform at Music at the Mansion. “I feel very grateful and blessed to have my career get to this point to where I get to share it with some of my great friends. All I can think about and see in my mind is my late mother’s face and how proud she would be. Because I know she would be here. I just know she would have told the whole community about it, so it’s quite the honor.”
Charly Lowry is getting the band back together on Sunday, November 10 from 3-4 p.m. at the N.C. History Museum in Raleigh. Details here.
Review by North Carolina Arts Council summer intern Scott Stegall
On the evening July 16, Chócala, the Charlotte-based Latin band, performed an hour-long show for Music at the Mansion, a special concert series celebrating North Carolina’s vibrant and diverse musical traditions hosted by First Lady Kristin Cooper. The ballroom of the Executive Mansion, which was designated as the Music Room when the mansion was originally constructed, provided the perfect setting for listeners to enjoy Chócala’s grooves.
Featuring percussionist Davey Blackburn, saxophone player Michael Anderson, bassist Claudio Ortiz, and Claudio’s sister Lisa Ortiz on lead vocals and keys, Chócala blends psychedelia, jazz, and Latin musical traditions creating a compelling sound. Throughout the evening, Chócala’s unique musical aesthetic was front and center as the band offered up covers and originals—many of which wrestle with issues pulled straight from the headlines. Ranging from the subtle and subdued to heartfelt and powerful, Lisa, the band’s principal songwriter, delivered a passionate vocal performance entirely in Spanish. Lisa’s dynamic delivery was mirrored by the other band members. Davey laid down the beat while Claudio picked out riffs up and down the length of the bass neck and contributed occasional vocal harmonies. Michael was the standout star, his unassuming demeanor and gutsy solos melding together for a captivating performance.
Song after song, Chócala’s infectious tunes resonated off the walls of the packed house, prompting audience members to tap their feet and clap their hands. First Lady Kristin Cooper even led an impromptu dance as Chócala jammed. Chócala’s crowd-pleasing concert exemplified North Carolina’s cultural diversity and served to remind listeners that the Executive Mansion is the people’s house—a space where all North Carolinians can make their voices heard and even cut a rug while they’re at it.
Chócala's debut album is coming out this Friday, September 1, and they are performing that evening at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, N.C. to celebrate the occasion. Tickets and more information can be found at this link.
On Tuesday May 28th, Mandolin Orange played a special set at the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh to help usher in a partnership between Come Hear North Carolina and the Americana Music Association (AMA). Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper hosted musicians, AMA members, and press to celebrate all that North Carolina has given to the world of music, and Mandolin Orange provided the perfect soundtrack to the occasion. Enjoy the full performance below.
On Tuesday May 28th, Mandolin Orange played a special set at the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh to help usher in a partnership between Come Hear North Carolina and the Americana Music Association (AMA). Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper hosted musicians, AMA members, and press to celebrate all that North Carolina has given to the world of music, and Mandolin Orange provided the perfect soundtrack to the occasion.
The duo – comprised of Chapel Hill’s Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz – treated the crowd to an intimate set, showcasing their range as both songwriters and musicians. The set concluded with a special version of fan-favorite “Wildfire,” with a surprise appearance from John Teer of Chatham County Line on fiddle. The song tells a brief history of America’s sordid past, begging an answer to why racism still prevails despite the bloody Civil War fought to end it, and how bigotry can spread like wildfire if left un-checked.
During the proclamation of the partnership, Americana Music Association’s Executive Director Jed Hilly remarked, “If everyone in the world listened to one hour of Americana music, we’d have world peace.” After that evening’s rendition of “Wildfire,” it would be hard to argue in the contrary. Hear for yourself below.
Yesterday Come Hear North Carolina and the Americana Music Association announced that music showcases at the 20th annual AMERICANAFEST® will highlight North Carolina musicians. Multiple showcases are scheduled Sept. 10 to 15 in Nashville, allowing audiences to experience what North Carolina sounds like. Come Hear North Carolina's presence at AMERICANAFEST will build awareness about the state’s influence on American music.
The Americana Music Association® has over 3,000 members from around the world and the organization has strong ties to North Carolina’s music heritage that includes many sounds in the Americana umbrella from folk, country, bluegrass and more. Musicians in this genre include Emmylou Harris, The Avett Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Carolina Chocolate Drops & Rhiannon Giddens, Tift Merritt, Dom Flemons and Mandolin Orange, who performed during the event.
North Carolina has an important place in the Americana genre, including being the home state of forefathers like Del McCoury, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, as well as 2019 Artist of The Year nominee Rhiannon Giddens, explained Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association.
Hilly also announced that AMERICANAFEST will feature a regional spotlight on North Carolina via panels on the state's musical history and showcases focused on the state's artists.
North Carolina First Lady Kristin Cooper hosted Chapel Hill's Mandolin Orange for the latest in a series of Music at the Mansion events taking place this year, speaking on the beauty and power that music has in reflecting the state's own diversity and creativity.
Following First Lady Kristin Cooper’s remarks, Governor Roy Cooper made a surprise appearance at the event to applaud his wife for her deep appreciation and love of music and the arts.He then spoke about the importance of music education in the lives of North Carolina’s children, while also discussing the role of arts and culture in helping the state’s overall growth-especially in regards to business and industry recruitment.
Mandolin Orange performed songs including “Golden Embers,” “The Wolves” and “Mother Deer” from their new album Tides of A Teardrop, which debuted at #1 on four Billboard charts - Heatseekers, Folk/Americana, Current Country Albums and Bluegrass – after its February release on Hillsborough, N.C.-based Yep Roc Records. They also brought out another surprise guest, fellow North Carolina musician John Teer of Chatham County Line, for their final song “Wildfire.”