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


Best Music at the Mansion Moments of 2019

Come Hear North Carolina
December 23, 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 favorite moments from every Music at the Mansion, a special concert series celebrating North Carolina’s vibrant and diverse musical traditions hosted by First Lady Kristin Cooper at the N.C. Executive Mansion, below.

The Harris Brothers are fabulous musicians who are steeped in the cultural traditions of their home region in the western Piedmont and foothills of Caldwell County.

The Harris Brothers

Near the end of an expansive inaugural Music at the Mansion performance, Reggie and Ryan Harris chatted with renowned sculptor Thomas Sayre from the stage, remarking on his sculpture in their hometown of Lenoir. Earlier in the set, Sayre called out a request for “Sultans of Swing.” He clearly knew something that most of the crowd didn’t, as the duo abided and broke into a smooth cover of the famous Dire Straits tune. While Mark Knopfler and his band hail from the United Kingdom, the way Reggie Harris translated the guitar parts from a Stratocaster to his Wayne Henderson flat-top acoustic makes you wonder if maybe Knopfler listened to a little Doc Watson in his early years. Find the moment at the 44:35 minute mark.


Mandolin Orange

After apologizing for “looking really tacky” for using the tuner on her phone, Emily Frantz reflected on the pride she and her bandmate Andrew Marlin felt for performing in the Executive Mansion and being members of North Carolina’s music lineage. She then noted that being North Carolinians meant they had some opportunities to write protest songs, and that they were prepared to perform a few in the building that has historically housed decision- makers involved in controversial public policies. Abandoning the instrument that lent to their namesake, Frantz on fiddle and Marlin on guitar performed “Hey Adam,” a song that re-imagines Adam in the Garden of Eden keeping secret that he is a gay man. This song was written in response to 2012’s Amendment 1 that saw the Constitution of North Carolina prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. The amendment was overruled in federal court after then-Attorney General Roy Cooper refused to defend it. To perform that song in the house he now occupies was intentional, powerful, and indicative of how many North Carolina musicians feel a sense of civic duty to use their art and platforms to raise awareness about social justice issues across the state. Find the moment at the 13 minute mark.



After a standing ovation and calls for one more song, the Charlotte-based group agreed, but with an exception – the crowd had to remain on their feet and dance. This was a simple request, and First Lady Kristin Cooper led the effort, occupying the center aisle and dancing with her guests and friends, new and old. In what might be the most “you had to be there” moment from the year of performances at the Executive Mansion, the video is obscured by the bobbing heads and moving hips of attendees, but the rhythms provided by Chócala are there, and really, that’s all you need. Catch the dancing at the 35:50 mark.



Charly Lowry & Friends

Picking a favorite moment from this Music at the Mansion performance is a near impossible task, but the part that keeps standing out was not the music but the attendees. Charly Lowry invited many of her fellow Lumbee tribespeople, recognizing and bantering with them from the stage. At the end of her stunning performance, Governor Roy Cooper arrived back at his home after a day on the road and took the time to meet, talk with, and take photos with the guests who, as Charly Lowry’s bandmate Alexis Raeana pointed out earlier in the day, were recent descendants of Native Americans who were likely not even allowed to visit the N.C. Executive Mansion in their lifetimes.


Jim Lauderdale

The day of Jim Lauderdale’s Music at the Mansion performance, the music world was shaken by the news of the passing of Robert Hunter. Most folks know Robert Hunter as the esteemed lyricist and muse for the Grateful Dead, but Jim Lauderdale knew him as a friend. Choking back tears, he recalled the time they spent together, the hundreds of songs they wrote, and told the audience what a “fierce, gentle, kind, and brilliant” man he was before celebrating his life with one of their many co-written tunes, “Trashcan Tomcat.” Catch the tribute at the 28 minute mark.


Sidney Outlaw ft. Warren Jones

For the final Music at the Mansion of the year, we went back to basics. No amplifiers. No drums. No frills. Only the Executive Mansion’s Steinway grand piano and an end table with a cup of tea filled the performance area before acclaimed baritone Sidney Outlaw and his accompanist Warren Jones took their places. About 30 seconds into their performance, you knew this was all you really needed. Opening the night with a rousing rendition of “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s opera buffa The Barber of Seville, Sidney Outlaw used every bit of space allowed to him, gliding from stage left to stage right, leaning casually on the open Steinway, and even breaking out the stereotypical “one arm in the air” opera pose during the crescendos of the piece. Most people in the audience probably recognized this piece from their younger years watching Looney Tunes, and his dynamic interpretation of this classic was the perfect way to rope us into what was one of the most jaw-dropping performances of the year.

Music at the Mansion: Sidney Outlaw ft. Warren Jones

Come Hear North Carolina
December 18, 2019


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.

Enjoy below.


Videographers: Laura Casteel, Greg Snyder, Tom Normanly

Audio: Matt Zeher

Editing: Matt Zeher

Producers: Carly Jones, Samuel Gerweck


Jim Lauderdale on North Carolina's Creative Climate

Come Hear North Carolina
December 16, 2019


In an interview prior to his recent Music at the Mansion performance, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale spoke about what contributes to North Carolina's special music alchemy. Here's what he had to say:

"When I travel through North Carolina, especially when I drive through Iredell County where I was born and have lived,  I turn off the radio and news and I just try to soak in the atmosphere. When they say those phrases like, 'There must be something in the water,' I think that there is something in the different regions of North Carolina that spur creativity and make your imagination go some place." - Jim Lauderdale


Watch his full Music at the Mansion perrformance in the video below! 

Music at the Mansion: Jim Lauderdale

Come Hear North Carolina
December 12, 2019


On September 24, 2019, Jim Lauderdale 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. He was accompanied by the Asheville, N.C. based band Fireside Collective and Zebulon Bowles .

Jim Lauderdale is a prolific songwriter and Grammy Award-winning musician whose career spans decades. Born in Troutman, North Carolina, Lauderdale was raised in a musical family. His mother was a chorus and piano teacher and music director at the church where his father preached. Growing up, Lauderdale had a voracious appetite for all types of music – from the sacred to secular, and to date his musical output and collaborations are a testament to an ongoing passion for and comfort in making many kinds of music. He’s collaborated with the likes of Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello, and Robert Hunter, the late lyricist for the Grateful Dead. It has been said that arrival of the genre dubbed “Americana” marked a music-industry embrace of the type of music Lauderdale’s made throughout his life. 

Lauderdale prepared a stripped-down bluegrass set for his Music at the Mansion, which you can enjoy below.

Jim Lauderdale's Music at the Mansion


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

Audio: Matt Zeher

Editing: Matt Zeher

Producers: Carly Jones, Samuel Gerweck, Sandra Davidson


Charly Lowry performs “Brown Skin” at Music at the Mansion

November 30, 2019

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." 


Share Your Gift With the World

November 10, 2019

“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

"If You Could Have Dinner With One North Carolina Musician...?"

November 9, 2019

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:



Catch their Pinecone performance here:https://pinecone.org/events/charly-lowry-friends

Alexis Raeana Reflects on Music at the Mansion Performance

November 7, 2019

“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!




You can see Alexis performing live with Charly this Sunday at the N.C. Museum of History. Details here.

Music at the Mansion with Charly Lowry and Friends

November 6, 2019

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.



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

Audio: Matt Zeher, Tom Normanly

Editing: Matt Zeher

Producers: Carly Jones, Samuel Gerweck, Sandra Davidson



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