Eastern North Carolina has produced some of the most transformative figures in the history of jazz, gospel and popular music. Among them are internationally renowned jazz pianists and composers Thelonious Monk from Rocky Mount and Billy Taylor from Greenville. African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina celebrates people, places and events in Eastern North …
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently announced UNC Press author Sheila Kay Adams as a 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellow. Adams is a seventh generation-ballad singer and has been performing Appalachian ballads and telling stories for over thirty years.
The Jesus music had a visceral effect on my peers and me. Music was all around us and a constant emotional and intellectual force in the 1970s. It was very much the vehicle for communicating this faith. Music identified us. It captured the emotion that was largely absent in the churches that emerged from the 1950s. The music communicated both an identity and a mission. We all felt like we were going to somehow change the world. Music, however could be exploited.
This week we revive our NC Icons series with a look at Doc Watson, number 51 on Our State magazine’s 100 North Carolina Icons list. The Deep Gap, North Carolina native and Grammy award winning singer/songwriter left a lasting legacy on traditional American music, revered for his influence on bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and gospel music.
I had a new image of the Times Op-Ed department as a kind of graduate seminar on steroids, not just fact-checking and copy-editing but asking the rigorous questions.
It’s a Twitter event! This Wednesday, December 12, from 9-10 pm EST join @LoriRotskoff, @uncpressblog, and @MamaDramaNY for a Twitter celebration and discussion of the 40th anniversary of Free to Be…You and Me, the popular nonsexist children’s album/book/TV special that has helped shape the childhoods and parenting practices of generations.
Our Holiday Sale is now underway! If you need some gift ideas for the folks on your list, our Southern Gateways catalog is a great place to start. Southern Gateways is where we collect of all our general interest books about this region we call home.
Great video interview with William Ferris, including excerpts from video included in Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues.
Glory is noteworthy as one of the few popular representations of the war to include African American music. The Civil War had a tremendous impact on black music but the songs created and sung by African Americans are rarely included in books and films. Although Burns makes use of black spirituals, even he does not incorporate those that were actually most popular among slaves, freedpeople, and USCTs.
Like the often-lamented vicious political rhetoric of modern politics, the phenomenon of using popular songs for political gain is nothing new. During the Civil War, politicians, military officials, and civilians frequently appropriated and revised popular songs for their own purposes. The primary difference is that today’s legal system is robust enough for songwriters and musicians to oppose such usage.
Nina Simone—the High Priestess of Soul to some, a fierce advocate of racial justice to others—would seem to be an unlikely interpreter of Israeli folk songs. Yet in 1962, as her career was taking off, Simone incorporated “Eretz Zavat Chalev” (“The Land of Milk and Honey”) into her repertoire. It proved to be an early example of her eclectic musical taste and one of her initial steps in moving beyond the traditional jazz combo–piano, bass, and drums–an evolution that would cement her place among world-renowned artists.
“My work completely takes all my energy,” Nina said later, “but when there are kids who come backstage afterward who want to talk, or who are moved to the point sometimes, they’re moved to tears and want to know more about it, they shake my hand and kiss me and want to talk about their problems, I find the time to do so.”
But for me, a medley from her July 4, 1963, appearance stands out as the quintessential Nina Simone moment. In just over six minutes, she displayed the range of her musical inspirations and a gift for improvisation that can come only from a deep appreciation of each genre and the skill—both vocal and at the keyboard—to carry it off.
Southern Cultures has just released the 2011 Music Issue–in print, online, and in eBook formats–including an enhanced Kindle edition that includes all the tracks from this year’s free CD. The Avett Brothers headline our CD, which also features Doc and Merle Watson and a blend of many more new and classic Southern artists.
Update 4:19 pm: And our winner this week is Maggie Baker! Congratulations, Maggie. I’ll email you for shipping instructions. Matt, thanks for playing (and tweeting about it!). Happy Friday everyone! And even happier because you get a chance to win a free book. It’s our monthly Free Book Friday giveaway, and today’s book is Music From the …