Trivia Tuesday: Emmylou Harris' Rise to Stardom

July 9, 2019

Acclaimed country musician Emmylou Harris, who attended UNC-Greensboro, won her first Grammy award in 1977 for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. Elite Hotel, the album that won her the award, features a cover of fellow NC country great Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams."

Lesley Riddle, Collaborator with the Carter Family

June 11, 2019

The following essay is courtesy of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resource's blog.   

On June 13, 1905, old-time musician Lesley Riddle was born in the Silvers Gap community north of Burnsville. Riddle learned to play blues and gospel songs on the guitar after losing most of a leg in an accident at a cement plant. He had to adjust his picking techniques to use only his thumb, index finger and little finger after losing two fingers in a shotgun accident.

A.P. Carter, patriarch of the famous Carter family, first heard Riddle play and sing in Kingsport, Tennessee, in 1927, and quicky recruited him to help advance the Carter family’s fame. Carter and Riddle visited African American communities and churches throughout Appalachian Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina to find new songs for the Carter Family band. Riddle would memorize the tunes and words before returning to teach the songs to Sara and Maybelle Carter.

“Mother Maybelle” learned her trademark guitar techniques from Riddle, including using a pocketknife for slide guitar work.

Riddle never made a living at music, working as a shine boy, presser and school crossing guard. In the 1960s, he accompanied Mike Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers on the folk festival circuit.

Riddle is celebrated by an annual festival, Riddlefest. This year's Riddlefest takes place on June 22. Get all the details including performers, schedule, and ticketing on their website.

At 97, Margaret Vardell Sandresky Plays On!

June 4, 2019

Winston-Salem native Margaret Vardell Sandresky, now 97, continues to play and compose music, following in the footsteps of her grandmother Linda Rumple Vardell, who founded the Conservatory of Music at Flora MacDonald College in Robeson County.

Trivia Tuesday: Before the Everly Brothers, There Were The Blue Sky Boys

May 28, 2019

The Blue Sky Boys, made up by brothers Earl and Bill Bolick, were two of the most popular duet singers in country music in the 1930s. Raised in Hickory N.C., the brothers made nearly 100 recordings, and their music would influence groups like the Everly Brothers and the Louvin Brothers. The Blue Sky Boys left a vast repertoire of recordings and radio performances that continue to fuel country and folk musicians’ catalog of songs.

Trivia Tuesday: Charlotte's WBT Radio Station

May 7, 2019

WBT, broadcasted out of Charlotte, was the first commercial radio station in North Carolina and the second in the South after Atlanta’s WSB. With a first air date of March 22, 1992, WBT long boasted that it could be heard from “Maine to Miami” after sundown.

The Avett Brothers Musical Upbringings

April 23, 2019

Growing up in Concord, NC, Scott and Seth Avett have played music together since they were kids, getting the love of music from their grandmother who was a concert pianist and their father, songwriter Jim Avett.

See both Jim Avett and the Avett Brothers this weekend at MerleFest!

Trivia Tuesday: Billy Strayhorn's Career with Duke Ellington

April 16, 2019

At 18, Billy Strayhorn composed the song “Something To Live For,” which was later recorded by Duke Ellington. This became the start of a lifelong collaboration between the two jazz musicians.

Trivia Tuesday: Max Roach's Beginnings

April 9, 2019

How did Max Roach get his start in jazz? Shortly after graduating high school in 1942, he was asked to fill in for Sonny Greer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in Manhattan.

Trivia Tuesday: Thelonious Monk and Mary Lou Williams

April 2, 2019

Jazz pianist Thelonius Monk starting playing the piano at age six and was largely self taught. One of his mentors was Mary Lou Williams, who joined the Duke University faculty in 1977 and lived in Durham her remaining years. 

Trivia Tuesday: Kathryn Grayson

March 26, 2019

Let us take you back to the golden age of Hollywood for this Trivia Tuesday: Born in 1922 in Winston Salem, actress and opera singer Kathryn Grayson trained as a coloratura soprano (the highest vocal range section), and starred in movies such as “It Happened in Brooklyn” alongside Frank Sinatra.

Kathryn Grayson performs "La Ci Darem La Mano" from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni with Frank Sinatra


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