Asha Bala

State of Things Managing Editor Anita Rao
Elie Gardner

It was a big year in North Carolina news. The man known to many as “America’s Pastor,” evangelist Billy Graham, passed away at the age of 99. Hurricane Florence tore through the state causing billions of dollars in damages, and protesters toppled the confederate Silent Sam statue on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Courtesy of Asha Bala / North Carolina Arts Council

When Asha Bala was born, her mother looked at her and declared that she would be a dancer. Her country, India, was a newborn as well, recently independent from British rule. So many parents were keen to revitalize ancient cultural and spiritual practices like Bharata Natyam dance, once practiced in the temples and based on epic tales and mythology.

composite image of artist honorees and the words '50 for 50'
Courtesy of the North Carolina Arts Council

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the North Carolina Arts Council, the state agency decided to profile 50 artists with North Carolina roots. The project is called “50 for 50,” and it includes artists from bestselling-author David Sedaris to poet and musician Shirlette Ammons.