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Durham's Soul Music Revived

Vernelle Mack, pictured second from the right, posing with the U.S. Welfare Band.
Durham County Library


Soul was a mainstay in the Durham music scene during the 1960s and 70s.

Durhamites were dancing to songs like "Bull City Party" in 1977. It’s one of many songs that show Durham’s soul music had strong ties to the city, and built lasting connections within the African-American community. 

Today, a group of artists and collectors is on a mission to archive and preserve Durham’s soul. The Soul Souvenirs exhibit is on display now at the Durham History Hub

Credit / Durham County Library
Durham County Library
WAFR was an African-American community radio station that distributed soul music to the city.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Joshua Clark Davis, co-creator of the exhibit and the website, which officially launches tonight at 6 p.m. with a celebration at the museum, and Vernelle Mack, a Durham soul singer, who performs live.

Durham's soul music spread through the city via radio stations like WAFR, which was a voice for the African-American community during the Black Power movement.

Music teachers often included soul in their curricula at Durham's public schools.

Credit / Durham County Library
Durham County Library
This album from the band NCCU is one of many on display at the Soul Souvenirs exhibit.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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