Robert "Dick" Knight

2018 North Carolina Heritage Award Recipient

“I love Kinston. It’s small. It’s like a song I play sometimes, ‘the Smaller the Club, the Better the Party’. Kinston has been good to me.”  — Dick Knight in an interview with the Kinston Free Press.

Lenoir County’s Dick Knight is a professional multi-instrumental jazz, R&B, funk, and soul musician, who played with James Brown, Otis Redding, Dionne Warwick, and Gladys Knight. He taught and influenced countless students through his work as a band director and music instructor in Florida and in Kinston, N.C.

Born and raised in Georgia, Dick attended Florida A&M University, where he majored in music and played in the university’s famed marching band. He became the band director at Savannah High School in Kinston after graduating college at the age of 19. His first Kinston acquaintance was Nat Jones, James Brown’s musical director, who quickly recruited him for the band. Stints with other popular recording artists soon followed.

After retiring from teaching in 2007, he rededicated himself to performing. He enjoys Kinston and the freedom that retirement allows. He still practices every day and you can find him playing with the Monitors (led by 2014 Heritage Award recipient Bill Myers), his own Dick Knight Express, and he solos as Dick Knight The Captain. He frequently plays cruise ships and waterfront businesses, totaling over a hundred venues a year. Dick Knight is one of the many musicians featured in the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina and Kinston’s African American Music Park.

“Being a student of Dick Knight gave me the tools and skills I needed to perfect my skills… Practice makes you better not perfect. Those were the words of my leader, my friend, and my teacher." 
—Lafayette Jones, former student

Explore his work

Dick plays a solo on James Brown's "Headache"