Thirty years ago somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the great American west, two twenty-somethings decided it would be fun to start a record label. The duo, Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, noted a desert road sign on their cross-country trip back to North Carolina and decided to name the label after it: Merge. It was 1989, and the mission of Merge was simple: to release music made by them and their friends.
Billy Edd Wheeler says a good song just grabs you from the start. He would know. The 86-year-old Swannanoa resident is one of North Carolina’s most successful songwriters. Most famous for writing “Jackson,” the iconic duet popularized by Johnny Cash and June Carter, Billy Edd’s songs have been recorded by Judy Collins, Neil Young, The Kingston Trio, Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers and more. Over 150 artists have recorded his lyrics including the famous “The Reverend Mr. Black” and “Coward of the County.” He is a member of the Nashville Association of Songwriters International’s Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. A true renaissance man, Billy Edd Wheeler is also playwright, novelist, poet, painter, singer, and sculptor.
Interview by Sandra Davidson & Wayne Martin | Photos Courtesy N.C. Music Hall of Fame
Edward Riley Ray, commonly known as Eddie Ray, is a North Carolina treasure and commercial music industry icon. Born in 1926 in Western North Carolina, Eddie worked his way up from stock-boy at a Milwaukee record distribution warehouse to the gilded executive rooms of America’s biggest record labels. A true innovator, Eddie relied on his gut instinct, appetite for work, and disregard for social and industry norms to build a career that contributed to the success of musicians like Ricky Nelson, Fats Domino, and Pink Floyd.
Interview by Sandra Davidson | Truth +Tamale Photos by Alex Morelli
Mary Carter Taub believes in making art for all people. Based in Chapel Hill, her work has appeared on buses, university campuses, airports, train stations, and public locations that allow folks from all walks of life to experience art. She is one of two recipients of the 2018 Mary B. Regan Artist Residency Award, a North Carolina Arts Council grant designed to support innovative art projects that impact communities. Mary is using the grant for Truth + Tamales, a project that takes a new approach to building a more inclusive and culturally connected Chapel Hill.
Monét Noelle Marshall is performance artist, director and choreographer known for her thought-provoking, community-driven projects that explore race, identity, and gender. She is one of two recipients of the 2018 Mary B. Regan Artist Residency Award, a North Carolina Arts Council grant designed to support innovative art projects that impact communities. Monét is using the grant to present “Buy My Art and Call It Holy” a 10-day project that premieres in Durham on Friday December 7th, which she describes below.