Music

Le'Andra McPhatten is a musician and the director of Le'Andra's Music Studio in Durham.
Denise Allen / Courtesy of the North Carolina Arts Council

North Carolina’s strong cultural traditions in music, crafts, dance and food have been evolving for generations. Millennials are now taking the helm and putting their own spin on various folk and traditional art forms.

Courtesy Tom Merrigan's Hot Raccoons

Raccoons. For many, they are scheming trash denizens and a neighborhood scourge. But musician Tom Merrigan has a deep and mildly obsessive relationship with the creatures and shares their propensity for night roams and mischief. His band name, Tom Merrigan’s Hot Raccoons, is a tribute to that bond. 

A headshot of Georgiary Bledsoe
Courtesy of Georgiary Bledsoe

From an early age, Georgiary Bledsoe aspired to a life beyond what she knew as a child. She is the youngest of 17 siblings and grew up very poor in East Saint Louis, Illinois, a city often considered one of the most dangerous in America.

The Onyx Club Boys approach Django Reinhardt's music with a joie de vivre that would make the jazz legend proud.
Courtesy of Gabriel Pelli

Guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt is regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The Romani-French composer gave birth to a new form of music in the 1930s known as gypsy jazz or Django music. The genre calls on classical and jazz traditions and is deeply influenced by the musette bands of Paris. 

Art created for the band Arrow Beach.
Courtesy of Arrow Beach

Singer John Ensslin vividly remembers his first concert: Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones in 1981. His next two live experiences were of David Byrne of Talking Heads and Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs. After watching the likes of Jagger, Ensslin knew he wanted to be a front man. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in art, but even back in school music was his primary passion, and he spent much of his time playing music with friends. 

The 1960s was a time of great social change, and Frye Gaillard was there to capture it in his new book, 'A Hard Rain.'
Courtesy of Frye Gaillard

Prolific journalist and writer Frye Gaillard’s latest book takes readers back to a time of profound political and cultural change: the 1960s. Gaillard was a young teen in middle school at the start of the decade, and by the end he was working as a reporter. In those years he witnessed firsthand the power and dynamism of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., both of whom were assassinated in 1968. 

Shambling their way through the Triangle and into your heart this December.
Courtesy of Ellis Dyson & The Shambles

Growing up, Ellis Dyson loved listening to music on the radio until many of the songs started to sound the same. They had similar beats and were often formulaic. This epiphany led him to old-time jazz and artists like Jelly Roll Morton, and eventually to playing his own music. He began on the fiddle, moved on to the banjo, and started his own band as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

A photo of Laura Jane Vincent and her guitar
Courtesy of Laura Jane Vincent

When singer-songwriter Laura Jane Vincent set out to record her entry for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, she knew just the place to do it. Her relatives owned a historic farmhouse tucked away in rural Glendon, North Carolina that still contained the nearly-untouched office of a country doctor named Murdo Eugene Street who died in 1944.

The sounds of bluegrass have taken over the streets and venues of Raleigh. The International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass is a five-day event that strings together free downtown shows, ticketed showcases, a business of bluegrass conference and the illustrious annual International Bluegrass Music Awards

The cover of Anne-Claire's new album, 'I Still Look For You.'
Kendall Atwater

When Anne-Claire Niver’s grandmother died in 2016, her small family was devastated. Niver was so grief-stricken that writing music about her grandmother was painful – too painful for her to imagine writing a song or recording an album about the loss. 

Amanda Magnus / WUNC

When Triad-based artist Molly McGinn agreed to organize a new weekly music night at a local venue, she wanted it to look and sound a little different. 

photo courtesy of Young Yonder

The members of the band Young Yonder all have day jobs – in fact several of them met while helping customers at the Apple store. They make music work by packing in practices and tightly coordinating schedules. 

Marchers and singers at the Poor People's Campaign, Washington DC. May-June 1968, Jimmy Collier is on the left, & Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick on right.
Smithsonian Folkways / Smithsonian - Folkways - http://s.si.edu/2B1fejh

Music as a form of protest has a long history in the U.S. Activists have used songs to guide countless movements, from the abolition fight in the 1700s to anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and beyond.

Katie Wyatt poses with children from the program she co-founded, Kidznotes.
Ken Demery Photography

Katie Wyatt first fell in in love with classical music when she joined her school’s orchestra in third grade. Wyatt played the viola and appreciated being part of a group that created art together. Wyatt was a military kid, so her family moved around about every four years. But no matter where she lived, Wyatt found a way to plug into her community through music. 

Leonard Bernstein seated at piano, making annotations to musical score
Al Ravenna, World Telegram staff photographer / ce Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c27784

Leonard Bernstein is remembered as an exceptionally talented conductor, composer and teacher. His “Young People’s Concerts” television series exposed millions of American children to classical music, and his message that music is for everyone struck a chord with many communities. 

Ray Williams
Elizabeth Eason / Ray Williams

As a teenager in England in the 1960s, Ray Williams soaked up the sounds of one of British pop’s most iconic eras. After spending years listening to popular music, he got a front-row seat to it all when he landed a job working for Cathy McGowan, presenter of the music television show “Ready Steady Go!”

Usman Dadi

The Pakistani ensemble Sounds of Kolachi blends South Asian melodies with western classical compositions, jazz arrangements and more. Host Frank Stasio talks with Ahsan Bari, co-founder of the group, about the band’s origins and influences.

WUNC Mill Music Sessions At Rocky Mount Mills

Mar 22, 2017
WUNC, Schoolkids Records & Rocky Mount Mills

WUNC has formed a partnership with Schoolkids Records on a new, free concert series at Rocky Mount Mills. In the tradition of the Back Porch Music on the Lawn Series these concerts are designed to both celebrate North Carolina’s rich musical heritage and provide families a fun night out.

Courtesy The Nile Project

 

The Nile Project is a collective of musicians from countries along the Nile basin. The group tours internationally and brings the eclectic sounds of participants’ native instruments to the stage. The musicians also organize lectures and workshops alongside their performances to discuss water conflict issues affecting their respective countries.

Wikimedia

Composer Philip Glass is one of the most influential musicians in the world, but his work wasn’t always so well-received. His minimalist style was unconventional and disruptive in the 60’s and 70’s. But over time Glass became an icon and wrote award-winning film scores and operas.

photo of Rissi Palmer
Rissi Palmer

Note: This is a Rebroadcast. This program originally aired July 15, 2016.

Singer-songwriter Rissi Palmer exploded onto the country music scene in 2007 with a self-titled album. She sang alongside Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, and her single "Country Girl" was the first song by an African-American woman artist to make the country Billboard charts in almost two decades.

Image of South African guitarist Derek Gripper
Coutesy of Derek Gripper

South African musician Derek Gripper has been playing classical music since he was 6-years-old. But after years of studying in Cape Town, he felt uninspired by the classical guitar repertoire available to him, so he set off on a journey to discover musical inspiration from around the world. He traveled first to South India, and then explored Brazilian music before he happened upon the instrument that changed the direction of his career: the kora.

Courtesy of Laughing Penguin Publicity

Kenny and Amanda Smith have been professional musicians as a duo for 15 years but have been playing music together as husband and wife for decades. The pair's new album is called "Unbound." Amanda Smith was a nominee for Female Vocalist of the Year, and Kenny Smith was nominated for Instrumental Performer of the Year on the guitar in the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Awards.
 

Stefan Litwin is a piano composer and music professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Hans Joachim Zylla

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from February 8, 2016. 

For Stefan Litwin, playing the piano is personal. Litwin was born in Mexico City in 1960 after his parents fled from the Nazis in Europe years earlier.

He grew up speaking three languages but always felt like an outsider. He went on to study piano in Switzerland and the United States, all the while channeling his family's experience in the Holocaust through composing music.

Orquesta GarDel
DL Anderson

Orquesta GarDel has been playing a type of high-energy Latin and jazz fusion for ten years. However, the 13-piece band has gone through several iterations as band members have come and gone, but the group has maintained its mission to bring traditional Latin sounds with jazz influences to local audiences.

Host Frank Stasio talks with the group's co-director Eric Hirsh and lead vocalist Christina Alamo about the band's progress.

Photo of Prince from "Purple Rain"
Sound Opinions / Flickr

Music can transport people to a particular time and place in a way that not many other things can. And for that reason, it has become an essential element of film.

Sometimes music is used as a tool to underscore a particular emotion or theme, and in other instances it is so distinct and memorable that it becomes a character of its own.

photo of Rapsody
FortyOnceGold

This program originally aired July 11, 2016.

Growing up in the small town of Snow Hill, N.C., Marlanna Evans, a.k.a Rapsody, wasn't exposed to much hip-hop music. She would listen to the songs her older cousins played in the car, but she didn't develop a love for rap until college.

While attending North Carolina State University, Evans helped a hip-hop culture grow on campus with a student music group that would meet in a dormitory lounge to rap battle. She eventually started making her own rhymes and met producer and Jamla Records founder 9th Wonder.

Photo of Curly Seckler and Charlie Monroe
Curly Seckler

Curly Seckler grew up a farming kid in the tiny town of China Grove, NC and liked to listen to the Monroe Brothers on the radio.

Eventually, he became one of the forebearers of bluegrass music as a part of the Foggy Mountain Boys. Seckler's iconic mandolin style and tenor harmonies carved a music career that spanned more than 50 years.

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

For the next episode of "Movies on the Radio," The State of Things is asking, what is your favorite movie about music? 

Did you enjoy the humorous depiction of rock stars in "Almost Famous?" Were you moved by the dramatic portrait of Mozart in "Amadeus?" Do you still remember the soundtracks of "American Graffiti" and "Jaws?" Film experts Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes will examine how movies depict musicians and the music industry and discuss memorable movie music.

photo of Violet Bell
Lizzy Ross

After spending four years making music in Nashville, singer-songwriter Lizzy Ross began to feel homesick.

Ross grew up in North Carolina, went to UNC-Chapel Hill and started her career in the Triangle music scene. While Nashville was filled with passionate and impressive musicians, she missed being part of a community that she felt really embraced diverse creative expressions.

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