It is not uncommon for police officers to have side jobs as security guards. But for former Raleigh police officer Joe Winters, his side job was more like a passion. From the early 1940s to the mid ‘70s, Winters was both a full-time cop and a concert promoter.
He was Raleigh’s second African-American officer and also the man responsible for bringing everyone from Count Basie to Aretha Franklin to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Though those worlds seems miles away, they both played to his desire to bring the community together and improve everyone’s quality of life.
As a police officer, Winters became well known for arresting an armed bank robber without resorting to violence. He talked his way through the situation, and it turned out that the would-be robber was using a toy gun.
As a club promoter, Winters earned the trust of both the community and artists. In 1956 after Nat King Cole was attacked by a mob of white supremacists in Birmingham, Cole cancelled most of his upcoming concerts in the South. Yet he made a stop in Raleigh because Winters guaranteed his safety and even opened his own home to the singer.
Winters’ story is brought to light in a forthcoming article in Our State Magazine by writer Billy Warden. Warden learned about Winters through a treasure trove of memorabilia recently discovered in the remodel of Winters’ Raleigh home. An exhibit tracing the life and legacy of Joe Winters is on view in the lobby of Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts through March 2019.
Warden joins Frank Stasio to talk about was found in Winters’ basement and the stories that go with it. They are also joined by Winters’ daughter Chacona Winters Baugh who looks back at being raised by a man who helped bring people together through music.