Durham's Soul Music Revived

Aug 15, 2014

Vernelle Mack, pictured third from the right, posing with the U.S. Welfare Band.
Credit bullcitysoul.org / 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

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

Host Frank Stasio talks with Joshua Clark Davis, co-creator of the exhibit and the website BullCitySoul.org, 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.

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