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FREE COMMUNITY CONCERTS SLATED IN GREENVILLE & ROCKY MOUNT

North Carolina Arts Council

Monday, March 2, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (March 2, 2020) — The North Carolina Arts Council and partners in Greenville and Rocky Mount will present free concerts that celebrate eastern North Carolina’s vibrant African American musical heritage this spring.

Greenville native Billy Taylor, a jazz pianist and National Medal of Arts recipient, came back home to play at East Carolina University and inspired the jazz program there. Rocky Mount is the birthplace of internationally renowned jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.

Both musicians are among the many documented in the “African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina,” a guidebook to eight eastern counties.

 

Here are the details about these FREE concerts:

 

March 13

Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge

404 Evans St., Greenville, N.C.

https://emergegallery.com/events/music-series

First set: 7 p.m.; second set: 8:30 p.m.

North Carolina Heritage Award recipient Bill Myers, on piano, will join Carroll V. Dashiell Jr.’s house band.

 

April 10

Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge

404 Evans St., Greenville, N.C.

https://emergegallery.com/events/music-series

This month head on over to East Carolina University to support the Billy Taylor Jazz Festival, scheduled April 22 to 25. Check out the line-up here: https://music.ecu.edu/billy-taylor-jazz-festival/ 

 

May 8

Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge

404 Evans St., Greenville, N.C.

https://emergegallery.com/events/music-series

First set: 7 p.m.; second set: 8:30 p.m.

Vaughn Ambrose, on saxophone, joins Carroll V. Dashiell, Jr.’s house band.

 

May, 9   

Rocky Mount Mills

115 Falls Road, Rocky Mount, N.C.  

https://www.rockymountmills.com/

7 p.m.

Join The Soul Music Initiative, for an evening that showcases the styles of music rooted in eastern North Carolina: jazz, funk, and rhythm, and blues.

 

June 13

Rocky Mount Mills

115 Falls Road, Rocky Mount, N.C.

https://www.rockymountmills.com/

7:30 p.m

Join Faith Harmony and the Dedicated Men of Zion for an evening of Southern soul and gospel.

 

For more information, visit www.NCArts.org.

GREENHILL EXHIBITION FEATURES FIVE WOMEN ABSTRACT NC ARTISTS

North Carolina Arts Council

Monday, March 2, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (March 2, 2020) -- NC Women Abstract Painters, now on display at the GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art, features five women who are abstract artists living in N.C. It is the first exhibition in 30 years to focus uniquely on women artists.

Greenhill Center for North Carolina Art is supported by the North Carolina’s Arts Council’s State Arts Resources program for the high quality of its arts programming. Other visual arts happenings supported by the N.C. Arts Council are listed below.

The exhibition features 80 works, from large-scale paintings to small studies, created by Eleanor Annand (Penland); Barbara Ellis (Concord); Celia Johnson (Chapel Hill); Katy Mixon (Chapel Hill and Davidson), and Felicia Van Bork (Davidson).

The exhibition was organized during Women’s History Month with a focus on gender equity in the arts.

“NC Women Abstract Painters offers fresh opportunities to elevate the vital contributions of women artists in our state,” Barbara Richter, Green Hill’s executive director, said. “We’re seeking larger conversations around gender equity in the arts through the works of these outstanding women painters and programming.”

GreenHill will host a lecture with Susan Fisher Sterling, Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, based in Washington, DC, on Thursday, March 12, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  Sterling has built her career and the stature of the museum around equity for women through excellence in the arts. 

Additionally, artist talks are scheduled on Wednesday, March 18 with Eleanor Annand and Barbara Ellis, and on Wednesday, March 25, with Felicia van Bork and Celia Johnson. Greenhill will feature a Friday walk-through tour with artist Katy Mixon on April 3. Valerie Hillings, the executive director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, will also present a lecture on April 8 at 5:30 p.m.

Artist Eleanor Annand presents wall reliefs covered with milk paint as well as paintings on metal. Artist Celia Johnson presents dynamic paintings on panels using wax-based encaustic, as well as new prints. Barbara Ellis presents new oil paintings exploring her emotional connection she experiences between gesture and the canvas. Felicia Van Bork displays her paintings and collages based on monotype prints, in which a single paper impression is pulled from a painting on glass. Van Bork’s newest series of large oil paintings and color studies will also be on view. Katy Mixon includes works created from used muslin hand rags stained with paint, as well as works on panels.

Edie Carpenter, of GreenHill, curated the exhibition.

The gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information about the exhibition, visit http://www.greenhillnc.org/nc-women-abstract-painters

 

A highlight of exhibitions by museums supported by the N.C. Arts Council:

 

Asheville Art Museum, Asheville

A Telling Instinct: John James Audubon & Contemporary Art

Through May 4, 2020

https://www.ashevilleart.org/

 

Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, Asheville

The Computer Pays its Debt Women, Textiles and Technology, 1965-1985

Open March 13

https://www.centerforcraft.org/

 

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Charlotte

Welcome to Brookhill

Through April 12, 2020

https://www.ganttcenter.org/

 

Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory

JUAN LOGAN | Creating & Collecting

http://hickoryart.org/

 

Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington

Unfolding Noguchi

Through May 24, 2020

https://cameronartmuseum.org/

 

McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Charlotte

Adorned

Through May 2, 2020

https://mccollcenter.org/

 

Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte

Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries

Through August 30

https://mintmuseum.org/

 

Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee

Story of the Cherokees: 13,000 Years

Ongoing

https://www.cherokeemuseum.org/

 

North Carolina Pottery Center, Seagrove

NC Wood-Fired: Then & Now

Through June 20

http://ncpotterycenter.org/

 

About the North Carolina Arts Council

The N.C. Arts Council builds on our state’s longstanding love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in annual direct economic activity. The Arts Council also sustains diverse arts expression and traditions while investing in innovative approaches to artmaking. The Arts Council has proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education. NCArts.org.

A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: THE ARTS AND COVID-19

North Carolina Arts Council

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging all North Carolinians to alter their lifestyles and radically change habits in order to arrest the spread of the virus. The arts and culture sectors in our state are heavily impacted as more and more artists, organizations, events, venues, and destinations are facing postponements or cancellations and must address significant revenue shortfalls as audiences diminish.

As you know, Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency this week. Guidelines in the declaration address the need for enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols as well as social distancing and remote communications.  Accordingly, the North Carolina Arts Council is postponing or cancelling all non-essential meetings, conferences, and gatherings across the state, including the Arts Council’s board of directors meeting that was scheduled for March 19. Because our agency’s offices are in Wake County, which has been impacted by the virus, Arts Council staff is also cancelling all non-essential travel. We expect these changes to remain in place for a number of weeks.

Emergency guidelines advocated telework in order to minimize social contact and many of our staff are working from home. That said, we are making every effort to answer calls and correspondence promptly. In addition, we plan to hold grant panels in May as scheduled, though we may opt to conduct online meetings rather than gather panelists in person.

If you are a current grantee and your organization or funded project is adversely affected by the virus, please contact Arts Council staff so that we can discuss potential options that may allow you to continue to utilize the grant.

Our national service organization, Americans for the Arts, is distributing a survey to assess real and potential economic impacts to arts organizations. I urge you to participate so that the effect of the virus on North Carolina’s arts infrastructure can be documented.

Advocacy to include the arts in emergency relief funding that might be allocated at the federal or state levels is a high priority. I am in close contact with Arts North Carolina and know that both of our organizations will share more information about recovery efforts in the coming weeks and months.

I also invite you to write me directly at wayne.martin@ncdcr.gov if you have ideas for other ways that our arts network in North Carolina can address the needs of our colleagues or help our citizens and their communities.

Thank you for all the ways that you make North Carolina a better place. Together we will get through this challenging period.

 

Wayne Martin, Executive Director

North Carolina Arts Council

UNDER ONE ROOF: LIVESTREAM CONCERT APRIL 24–26 TO BENEFIT NORTH CAROLINA ARTISTS

North Carolina Arts Council

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Performances and Appearances by Anthony Hamilton, 9th Wonder, Ben Folds, The Hamiltones, Jim Lauderdale, Tift Merritt, Steep Canyon Rangers, Chatham County Line, Joe Troop of Che Apalache, Petey Pablo and More

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 16, 2020) -- Come Hear North Carolina and CLTure announce “Under One Roof,” a livestream benefit concert for North Carolina artists, to be presented in one-hour segments on the evenings of Friday April 24 through Sunday, April 26.

Organized by the Charlotte-based entertainment publication CLTure as part of the Come Hear NC initiative of the North Carolina Arts Council and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the weekend event brings together some of North Carolina music’s biggest names to aid their community in these unprecedented times.

“It’s important to inspire, instill and give back to home. Home is where you first learn the value of trust. It’s important to be there for our own,” says Grammy Award-winning Anthony Hamilton on his motivation for participating. “Our artists deserve to be heard and appreciated. Carolina has some awesome talent.”

“Under One Roof” viewers are encouraged to donate to the North Carolina Arts Foundation, a nonprofit established in 2013 to promote the growth and sustainability of the N.C. Arts Council. The foundation will send all proceeds raised from “Under One Roof” to nonprofit arts organizations in the state that have established relief funds for artists in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Under One Roof” will be broadcast live on Twitch and Facebook from 8 p.m.–9 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 24; Saturday, April 25; and Sunday, April 26. Find details about tuning in here: https://bit.ly/3adDyeP

The North Carolina artists joining “Under One Roof” span genres and generations: Anthony Hamilton (Charlotte), 9th Wonder,  Ben Folds (Winston-Salem), The Hamiltones (Morrisville, Charlotte, Greensboro), Petey Pablo (Greenville),  Tift Merritt (Raleigh), Jim Lauderdale (Troutman), Steep Canyon Rangers (Asheville), Chatham County Line (Raleigh), Joe Troop of Che Apalache (Winston-Salem),  and The Harvey Cummings Project (Charlotte).

These musicians will perform original songs and covers, share archival performances, and offer messages of encouragement to artists and viewers. Announcements of additional artists and a full schedule of performances will be posted on the official Facebook event in the coming days.

“Under One Roof: A Benefit for North Carolina Artists” is the latest project from Come Hear North Carolina. Come Hear NC’s mission is to support the state’s arts community and celebrate its diverse musical traditions. Come Hear NC has sponsored the “Music at The Mansion” concert series (filmed at the North Carolina Executive Mansion) and a “Nina Simone Weekend,” which raised money to preserve the singer’s childhood home, in Tryon, N.C. Other projects are the In The Water live-session series, featuring North Carolina musicians Rhiannon Giddens and the Mountain Goats, and the commissioning of a two-part documentary on the seminal Durham hip-hop group Little Brother. Learn more about Come Hear North Carolina here: www.ComeHearNC.com.

A captioned video of the event will be available at a later date. For additional questions regarding accessibility, or to obtain a copy of the transcript upon completion of this event, please contact Kathleen Collier at kathleen.collier@ncdcr.gov.

‘UNDER ONE ROOF’ BENEFIT CONCERT RAISES $50,000 FOR NC ARTISTS

North Carolina Arts Council

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 29, 2020) – Presented by Come Hear North Carolina, “Under One Roof,” a three-day, three-hour virtual music festival, raised $50,000 to support artists across North Carolina whose work has been disrupted by COVID-19, organizers announced today.

The benefit concert which featured virtual performances, interviews, and messages from North Carolina musicians, who participated to help artists across the state, has been viewed 120,000 times to date.  All proceeds from Under One Roof will be distributed to artist relief efforts.

Musicians who donated their talent and time included Anthony Hamilton, 9th Wonder, Ben Folds, Fantasia, The Hamiltones, Petey Pablo, Tift Merritt, Jim Lauderdale, Steep Canyon Rangers, Brooke Simpson, Chatham County Line, Joe Troop of Che Apalache, and The Harvey Cummings Project. Additionally, videos created by the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Markay Media in Durham chronicled the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of artists in our state.

“Under One Roof was a creative, innovative statement on how artists come to the fore in the face of adversity,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council. “And the high level of viewer donations demonstrate how strongly North Carolinians feel about our artists. We always turn to artists for inspiration and solace during hard times, but we will also show up to support them in a crisis. Our citizens know that the arts and artists are key to our cultural identity here in North Carolina, as well as vital to our economy.”

Under One Roof was produced by the Charlotte-based entertainment publication CLTure in collaboration with the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The North Carolina Arts Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds from the private sector to support the work of the North Carolina Arts Council, is receiving and dispersing donations.

Contributions to the fund are still encouraged through the North Carolina Arts Foundation at www.paypal.me/NCarts

Under One Roof: A Benefit for North Carolina Artists is the latest project from Come Hear North Carolina. Come Hear NC’s mission is to support the state’s arts community and celebrate its diverse musical traditions. Learn more about Come Hear NC here: www.ComeHearNC.com.

TAMARA HOLMES BROTHERS NAMED DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE NC ARTS COUNCIL

North Carolina Arts Council

Friday, May 8, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 8, 2020) -- Dr. Tamara Holmes Brothers has been named Deputy Director of the North Carolina Arts Council, effective May 11. Dr. Brothers comes to the Arts Council from Duke University, where she is Director of Development & Major Gifts at the Nasher Museum of Art.

In addition to her experience at one of the premier visual art museums in the state, Dr. Brothers worked as Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations where she led development efforts and played a central role in achieving the university’s capital campaign goals.

“North Carolina’s arts industry is at a pivotal time as we work together on the recovery from the pandemic. Tamara’s experience in development will be extremely valuable to our agency as it strives to raise more resources for the arts from the private sector,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the Arts Council. “Her extensive ties to arts programs at historically black colleges and universities across our state will provide opportunities for new collaborations with communities served by our state’s extensive HBCU network.”

Dr. Brothers is a native of Fayetteville, N.C., and has a bachelor's degree in art and a Ph.D. from Hampton University. Her dissertation at Hampton focused on the potential of arts integration to help students learn more effectively.

Dr. Brothers also has a master's degree in sport management from West Virginia University, a certificate in historic preservation from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a certificate in art as an alternate investment from Sotheby’s Art Institute, and a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University.

“My career trajectory has led me to the North Carolina Arts Council, and I’m honored to join the team,” said Dr. Brothers. “The Arts Council is at a critical juncture and I look forward to harnessing my background and passion to benefit arts organizations and artists across the state.”

As a volunteer, Dr. Brothers serves as a member of the boards of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, the North Carolina Arts Foundation, Arts North Carolina, and the North Carolina National Register Advisory Committee and on the national advisory board of Museum Hue, an arts platform for professionals of color. She was the second African American female president of the West Fayetteville Rotary Club and is a former member of the boards of the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County, a former member of the City of Fayetteville’s Historic Resources Commission, and a founding steering committee member of the Friends of African & African American Art at the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Arts Council. She was president of the board of the Hampton University Museum Foundation.

NC ARTIST SHERRILL ROLAND WINS SOUTHERN PRIZE

North Carolina Arts Council

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 19,2020) -- Multidisciplinary artist Sherrill Roland of Morrisville, North Carolina was awarded the 2020 Southern Prize by South Arts, the nonprofit arts service organization advancing Southern vitality through the arts.

Roland, whose powerful work is deeply influenced by a three-year period of wrongful incarceration, received a $25,000 cash award and a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences.

“My interdisciplinary practice addresses the complex construction of these three core entities: innocence, identity, and community; and reimagines their social and political implications in the context of the American criminal justice system,” according to Roland’s artist statement.

He spent ten months in jail for a crime in which he was exonerated. Later Roland looked to art “as a vehicle for self-reflection and an outlet for emotional release.” While at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro he wore an orange jumpsuit every day until graduation. “The Jumpsuit Project challenges audiences to address their prejudices about the jumpsuit, my body, and the issues surrounding incarceration,” he said.

Alabama artist Carlton Nell, whose meditative drawings using silver on film explore the abstractness of the natural world, received the Southern Prize Finalist award of $10,000. The awards were announced in a ceremony held online on May 18, 2020.

Roland and Nell were among the nine South Arts State Fellowship recipients honored by South Arts, each of whom received a $5,000 award in March 2020. An exhibition of all nine artists’ work is anticipated to open at the Bo Bartlett Center in Columbus, Georgia in August 2020.

The South Arts State Fellowships are juried, state-specific competitive awards to visual artists representing the nine states served by South Arts. The other 2020 State Fellowship award recipients are:

  • Carlton Nell. Opelika, Alabama. Drawing.
  • Alba Triana. Miami, Florida. Experimental.
  • Fahamu Pecou. Decatur, Georgia. Painting.
  • Letitia Quesenberry. Louisville, Kentucky. Multidisciplinary.
  • Karen Ocker. New Orleans, Louisiana. Painting.
  • Ashleigh Coleman. Jackson, Mississippi. Photography.
  • Kristi Ryba. Charleston, South Carolina. Painting.
  • Bill Steber. Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Photography.

Launched in 2017, the Southern Prize and State Fellowships celebrate and support the highest quality artistic work being created in the South. Hundreds of visual artists submitted work for consideration, and a national panel of jurors reviewed the applications through the lens of artistic excellence representing the diversity of the region. A second national panel of jurors reviewed the State Fellows to determine the Southern Prize winner and finalist. Each panel is conducted blind, with the applicants’ identities withheld from the jurors.

The State Fellowship jurors were Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba of the New Orleans Museum of Art, Edward Hayes, Jr. of The McNay Art Museum, independent art historian and consultant David Houston, and Marilyn Zapf of the Center for Craft. The Southern Prize jurors were Pradeep Dalal of Creative Capital, Grace Deveney of Prospect New Orleans, and former executive director of Penland School of Crafts Jean W. McLaughlin.

To view the 2020 Southern Prize and State Fellows’ submissions and learn more about the competition, visit www.southarts.org.

NEA ANNOUNCES SECOND ROUND OF FUNDING TO NC NONPROFITS

North Carolina Arts Council

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Washington, DC (June 16 2020) — The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced that more than $1.3 million will be distributed to 14 nonprofit organizations across the state to boost arts programming and arts research.

The North Carolina Arts Council will receive more than $1 million through the NEA’s state and regional partnership grant program. NEA funding announced today is separate from grants related to federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

Nationwide, the NEA plans to award more than $84 million in 1,144 new grants to organizations in  all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and each of the five U.S. territories for people to experience the arts and exercise their creativity. The NEA is the only arts funder reaching the entire country.

Below is a list of grants to North Carolina nonprofit organizations:

Brevard Music Center, Brevard

$15,000 (Music)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

$20,000 (Opera)  

Playmakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill

$15,000 (Theater)

University of North Carolina General Administration, Chapel Hill

$20,000 (Media Arts)

Children's Theatre of Charlotte

$25,000 (Theater)

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

$29,000 (Research)

Duke University, Durham

$99,000 (Research)

North Carolina Central University, Durham

$10,000 (Arts Education)

Dance Project, Inc., Greensboro

$10,000 (Dance)

North Carolina Opera, Raleigh

$20,000 (Opera)

Alleghany Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM), Sparta

$15,000 (Folk & Traditional Arts)

Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum. Wilmington

$20,000 (Museum)

Blue Ridge Music Center, Winston Salem

$30,000 (Folk & Traditional Arts)

 

To view all current grants and project details, visit the NEA’s recent grant search.

  • Click here for a list organized by State/territory and city/town

  • Click here for a list organized by Funding category and artistic discipline/field.

 

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

 

About the North Carolina Arts Council

The North Carolina Arts Council builds on our state’s longstanding love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in annual direct economic activity. The Arts Council also sustains diverse arts expression and traditions while investing in innovative approaches to art-making. The North Carolina Arts Council has proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education. www.NCArts.org

N.C. ARTS COUNCIL AWARDS FUNDS TO SUPPORT ARTISTS STATEWIDE

North Carolina Arts Council

Friday, June 12, 2020

Raleigh, N.C. (June 12, 2020) — The North Carolina Arts Council is pleased to announce that seven nonprofit organizations will receive $105,000 to help mitigate the pandemic’s impact on the state’s artists. The recipients of these grants will use the money to establish or augment programs to which artists may apply to support their work.

“Artists across our state were among the first to feel the impact of COVID-19 and continue to experience the effects,” said Wayne Martin, the Arts Council’s executive director. “Artists connect us and invigorate our communities. We need to support artists to keep our state’s creative economy strong.”

Funding for artist support came from both the private sector and from federal funds allocated to the North Carolina Arts Council from the National Endowment for the Arts. The North Carolina Arts Foundation, which supports the work of the North Carolina Arts Council, distributed $40,000 in contributions raised during Under One Roof, a three-night online concert in May that featured North Carolina musicians. The nonprofits receiving grants will match the awards.

The following arts organizations were selected to receive grants for reallocation to artists:

VAE/North Carolina Artist Relief Fund, Raleigh
$25,000

Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County
$15,000

ArtsGreensboro, Greensboro
$15,000

Durham Arts Council
$15,000

NorthStar Church of the Arts, Durham

$15,000

Orange County Arts Commission, Hillsborough
$15,000

Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge

$5,000

 

About the North Carolina Arts Council

The North Carolina Arts Council builds on our state’s longstanding love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in annual direct economic activity. The Arts Council also sustains diverse arts expression and traditions while investing in innovative approaches to art-making. The North Carolina Arts Council has proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education. www.NCArts.org

 

JAKI SHELTON GREEN RELEASES HER FIRST ALBUM

North Carolina Arts Council

Friday, June 19, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (June 19, 2020) -- North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green will release her debut album, The River Speaks of Thirst, on Soul City Sounds today in honor of Juneteenth, a national celebration of Emancipation Day, and her birthday.

The River Speaks of Thirst consists of 10 new, previously unpublished poems about slavery (“This I Know For Sure”), lynchings (“I Wanted To Ask the Trees”), police shootings (“Oh My Brother”), and racism (“Letter From the Other Daughter of the Confederacy”). Freedom is the central theme, creating a current of hope amid these tough subjects.

Alec Ferrell produced the music and sound, and the album features guest poet and musician Shirlette Ammons, Chapel Hill Poet Laureate C. J. Suitt, gospel singer Jennifer Evans, and Grammy-nominated jazz singer Nnenna Freelon in a call and response.

“Being the first African-American poet laureate matters to me on so many different levels,” Green says in the liner notes. “I’ve been receiving depths of love in terms of what it means to total strangers of all different hues and belief systems and ages across the state. People really celebrate the space I’m in and appreciate what I’m trying to bring to the post. Yes, it’s about being an ambassador for poetry, but also compassion and kindness, and how we might reimagine how art helps cross boundaries.”

Arthur Alexis Pauline Gumbs interviewed Green about the album in this article published by Indy Week.

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