Singing on the Land
Singing on the Land is a virtual music project that celebrates the stories of historic sites across North Carolina through the voices of North Carolina musicians. Developed by North Carolina State Historic Sites and Properties in partnership with the North Carolina Arts Council and Come Hear NC, each installment of the series will highlight one of North Carolina’s 25 state designated historic sites. Each episode of Singing on the Land will feature a single song acoustic performance by a North Carolina musician(s) paired with short interviews and environmental footage of the site’s landscape and landmarks.
Kora player Teli Shabu at Somerset Place
Born in Liberia, West Africa, Teli is the Musical Director and lead percussionist for The Magic of African Rhythm. He teaches drum class for adults and youth throughout North Carolina. He has traveled the U.S. and West Africa studying percussions and kora with masters. Awarded Best Original Music 2012 for his work on The Brothers Size at Manbites Dog Theater by Indy Weekly Magazine, his kora playing was recorded for the score of I Love My Hair On Good Days Then Again When it’s Defiant and Impressive in March of the same year. Teli was most recently was featured on Kim Arrington’s sophomore album Getting II Yes.
Somerset Place offers a comprehensive and realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. Originally, this unusual plantation included almost 110,000 acres of densely vegetated swampland bordering Scuppernong Lake (present day Lake Phelps) in what is now Washington County. From 1785-1865, over 861 enslaved persons converted thousands of acres into high-yielding fields of rice, corn, oats, wheat, beans, peas, and flax. Meanwhile, enslaved and free millwrights operated sophisticated sawmills that turned out thousands of feet of lumber. By 1860, Somerset Place was one of the Upper South's largest plantations.
Classical singer and N.C. Arts Council Senior Program Director Carly Prentis Jones at Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum
Carly Prentis Jones is a theater artist and vocalist performing on stages throughout the region. She is a versatile performer - spanning opera, art song, musical theater, classic and contemporary theater. Some of her most favorite musical performance credits include: Camila in In The Heights, Nettie in Carousel, Lady In Green in For Colored Girls, and Dorothy in The Wiz, Nettie in The Color Purple, Sarah in Ragtime, and Lily in The Secret Garden. As a classically trained singer, Carly enjoys performing as a recitalist and as a soloist with sacred venues and organizations. She attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, a Bachelor of Arts in Black Music History, and a minor in Arts Management. You may follow Carly’s performance work at carlyprentisjones.com.
Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum: Founded in 1902 by Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Palmer Memorial Institute transformed the lives of more than 2,000 African American students. Today, the campus provides a setting where visitors can explore this unique environment where boys and girls lived and learned during the greater part of the 20th century. The museum links Dr. Brown and Palmer Memorial Institute to the larger themes of African American history, women's history, social history, and education, emphasizing the contributions African Americans made in North Carolina.
Taylor McCullen at Alamance Battleground
Taylor McCullen, bagpiper, plays at Alamance Battleground State Historic Site.
In 1771, an armed group of backcountry farmers calling themselves Regulators battled with royal governor William Tryon's militia on land now preserved at Alamance Battleground State Historic Site. Growing anger over expensive land, embezzlement of tax money, and collusion between creditors and public officials led small farmers in piedmont North Carolina to form associations, write petitions, and seek peaceful redress of their grievances. A lack of response from the royal government only deepened the Regulators' resolve, and rising frustration later gave way to violence. The Regulator movement ended with their defeat at Alamance, but their struggle sent shockwaves through North Carolina and Colonial America, creating tensions that would reignite during the American War for Independence. Located on the grounds of the site is the Allen House, a log dwelling characteristic of those lived in by backcountry farmers on the western fringes of the colony in this period.
Opera singer Andrea Edith Moore, Soprano and cellist Shana Tucker at Brunswick Town and Fort Anderson
Andrea Moore: Soprano Andrea Edith Moore brings a “certain opalescence that is particularly served by her impressive phrasing and inherent musicality” (operagasm.com) Moore has triumphed with Maestros Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andreas Mitisek, Timothy Myers, Gerard Schwartz, and David Zinman and with the Hamburg Kammeroper, Central City Opera, Aspen Opera Theater and the Richard Tucker Foundation. She is a regular principle artist with the North Carolina Opera where she has starred in the roles of The Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Micaëla in Carmen, the High Priestess in Aida, Dianarah in Hercules vs. Vampires and the roles of the Girl and Mother in Family Secrets: Kith & Kin by Daniel Thomas Davis.
Active in new music, Moore commissioned, produced and premiered Family Secrets: Kith & Kin by Daniel Thomas Davis, a work she recently recorded with members of Eighth Blackbird. She sang the role of Sara in Jennifer Higdon’s new opera Cold Mountain and recently gave the world premiere of Eric Schwartz’s live film-score accompanying The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. On June 20, 2020, she’ll premiere Kenneth Frazelle’s evening-length song-cycle Through the Window commissioned by Mallarme Chamber Players and Come Hear NC. In the fall of 2020, she premieres a new work by Annika Socolofsky commissioned by ~Nois. Moore has established herself among the early music-making community taking part in several years of the North Carolina HIP (Historically Informed Practice) Festival with Mallarme Chamber Players and as a soloist on the Bach Cantata Series at Duke Chapel.
Moore is a prize-winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has been twice awarded the Yale School of Music Alumni Award. Ms. Moore holds degrees from Yale University, Peabody Conservatory of Music at The Johns Hopkins University and UNC School of the Arts. Moore has served on the faculty of UNC-CH and now teaches privately, sings full time, is mom to an energetic 4-year-old and with her husband owns two restaurants, Alley Twenty Six in Durham and James Beard American-Classic: Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill. - NC Opera
Shana Tucker: Cellist. Singer-Songwriter. Arts Advocate. Teaching Artist. Collaborator. Cultural Conduit. In each role, Shana Tucker is a builder-of-connections, whether she’s associating STEM concepts with backbeats or engaging a packed house through candid song-storytelling in performance. Shana's unique genre of ChamberSoul™ weaves jazz, roots, folk, acoustic pop, and a touch of R&B into melodies that echo in your head for days.A Long Island, NY native, Shana studied cello at Howard University in Washington, DC, where she took her first dive into improvisational performance and honed her singer-songwriting skills. She later received her degree in Violoncello Performance from CUNY-Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, where she studied with master cellist Marion Feldman. A sought-after collaborator, Shana performs and records with legendary jazz saxophonist/composer Bennie Maupin, jazz flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell, Grammy-nominated NuSoul collective The Foreign Exchange and countless others. A front-line advocate for arts education, Shana is an accomplished teaching artist, with over 20 years’ experience with community engagement, workshops, lesson planning and artist residency facilitation. Working with students from Pre-K through college and lifelong learners, Shana is currently an Artist Fellow with A+ Schools of North Carolina, a teaching artist with United Arts Council of Raleigh/Wake County and Durham Arts Council, and has been a teaching artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 2015.
Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site: A major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina's Cape Fear River, Brunswick was partially burned by British troops in 1776 and never fully recovered. During the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed atop part of the ruins of the town, and served as part of the Cape Fear River defenses below Wilmington before the fall of the Confederacy. Colonial foundations dot the present-day tour trail, which crosses the earthworks of the Confederate fort. Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site is also located within the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, in the heart of North Carolina rice country.
Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson
Bill Amey, Kennedy Atkinson, & Nicole Sibalo Chagwiza at Stagville
With the help of his mother, Bill Amey was educated at the University of North Carolina School of Music in Greensboro, North Carolina where he earned a Bachelor of Music Education Degree. He began to work weekends with entertainers like Barbara Eden (“I Dream of Jeanie”), Aaron Purdie (drummer for James Brown), The Modulations (Buddah Records). Bill appeared with Barbara Eden (I Dream Of Jeannie), Millie Jackson, and other major acts traveling through North Carolina. Upon graduation Bill relocated to New York where he gave most of his attention to the jazz idiom. He was fortunate enough to continue his study of music with trombonists of historic stature: J. J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, and Slide Hampton as well as becoming a student at Jazzmobile, a Manhattan-based summer study program for young musicians operated by Dr. Billy Taylor, The Heath Brothers, Curtis Fuller, Frank Foster and others. Bill’s first international tour came when Hugh Maskela auditioned him for the band. That tour opened the door to radio, television, and live performances with artists such as Cecil Payne, Bob Trowers, Wallace Roney, Steve Torre and Tom Harrell, to name a few. Whether playing in an orchestra, big band, jazz ensemble, or small group, Bill Amey continues to have things to say musically. - From BillAmey.com
Historic Stagville preserves a small fraction of the plantation holdings of the Bennehan-Cameron families. From 1771 to 1865, the Bennehan and Cameron families profited from the forced labor of enslaved Africans and African Americans on this land. By the 1860s, the Bennehan-Cameron family-controlled over 30,000 acres of land and enslaved over 900 people. The Stagville farm and quarters was one of the oldest sections of this enormous plantation complex. Today Stagville is a historic site dedicated to interpreting the lives, culture, and labors of enslaved people on the Bennehan-Cameron plantations.
N.C. Heritage Award Recipient Arnold Richardson with Netye Lynch at Historic Halifax
Watch and listen to Arnold Richardson and Netye Lynch’s performance at Historic Halifax. Arnold Richardson plays a hand-carved red cedar American Indian Flute and Netye Lynch accompanies him on the hand drum at Magazine Spring, a sacred place to the Haliwa-Saponi tribe.
Arnold Richardson is a musician, sculptor, and storyteller and member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe of eastern North Carolina. His work spans decades, starting in 1972 when he returned to North Carolina with a focus on revitalizing the cultural heritage of eastern North Carolina’s American Indians. In this performance, we hear Arnold play an American Indian Flute, the oldest melodic instrument in the Western Hemisphere. His prowess on this sacred instrument, along with his ability as a stone sculptor, gourd carver, and percussionist led him to be the American Indian Folk Artist for the North Carolina Arts Council from 1982 to 1989 and a North Carolina Heritage Award recipient in 2004.
Historic Halifax: Located on the Roanoke River, the town of Halifax developed into a commercial and political center at the time of the American Revolution. North Carolina's Fourth Provincial Congress met in Halifax in the spring of 1776. On April 12 that body unanimously adopted a document later called the "Halifax Resolves," which was the first official action by an entire colony recommending independence from England. Historic Halifax is also home to Magazine Spring, which is sacred to the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe.
Surry County Traditional Musician Jimmy Vipperman at Horne Creek Farm
Multi-instrumentalist and teacher Jim Vipperman grew up in a musically rich family and community in Surry County. His father, John Vipperman, whose musical career included a stint with Bill Monroe’s band in 1951, encouraged Jim to play, taking him to fiddlers’ conventions, dances, and visits to local musicians. In the 1980s, Jim started giving lessons at the local music store and at Surry County Community College. In 1991, he began teaching for the Surry County Arts Council, and in 1995 he opened his own shop. “Today, I spend about 80 percent of my time giving lessons,” he says. He teaches weekly lessons for the Arts Council, and he has a host of private students. He teaches fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, and bass in several styles through his shop, Vip’s Violins. Jim also continues to perform at local and regional festivals, fiddler’s conventions, and other events. He has performed with the Doug Dillard band at Mayberry Days since the late 1990s. Jim has won more top-ten awards—thirteen—than any other fiddle competitor in the history of the Galax Fiddler’s Convention, including First Place in 1991. The Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention has bestowed the First Place honor on him nine times.
Horne Creek Living Historical Farm: Once the Hauser family farm, Horne Creek enables visitors to experience farm life in North Carolina's northwestern Piedmont circa 1900. The site features the family's original farmhouse, a tobacco curing barn, a corn crib, adjacent fields under cultivation, and even a heritage apple orchard. Through programs ranging from old fashioned ice cream socials to an annual corn shucking frolic, Horne Creek Living Historical Farm provides a unique opportunity to learn about our rural past.
Horne Creek Living Historical Farm
Blues musician Lakota John at Town Creek Indian Mound
Lakota John is a blues musician from Pembroke, North Carolina. He grew up listening to and absorbing his dad’s music library, and he picked up harmonica at age 6, and the guitar at age 7. He learned to play guitar left-handed, in standard tuning (like Carrboro’s folk matriarch Elizabeth Cotten) and was soon intrigued by the sound of the slide guitar. At age 10, he bought himself a glass slide, placed it on his pinky finger, and he has been sliding over the frets ever since. Lakota John channels traditional styles of the blues, ragtime, jazz, and roots music through his slide guitar, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica and draws on his Native heritage with sounds of the American Indian flute. In 2009, he joined the Music Maker Relief Foundation, performing locally as one of their Next Generation Artists. He has performed at the North Carolina Museum of History, Shakori Hills Music Festival, and for The PineCone Music Series and the North Carolina Indian Heritage Celebration.
Town Creek Indian Mound is an unusual phenomenon in the history of North American archaeology. While most archaeological sites are investigated for a few years before archaeologists move on to new locations, Town Creek, situated on Little River (a tributary of the Great Pee Dee in central North Carolina), has been the focus of a consistent program of archaeological research for more than half a century. This research has contributed to the scientific understanding of the original inhabitants of our continent and has provided educational opportunities for many graduate and undergraduate students in anthropology. Moreover, these contributions to science and higher education were made as the site contributed directly to public education.
Town Creek Indian Mound
Country-soul singer Rissi Palmer with James Gilmore on guitar at Bentonville Battlefield
Rissi Palmer is a country, pop, R&B/Soul songwriter from Raleigh, N.C. Raised in a musical family that loved both country & R&B, she was offered her first publishing and label deals at 19. In 2007, she released her debut album with the single “Country Girl,” which hit No. 54 on the Billboard Hot Country charts, making her the first African-American woman to chart in country music since Dona Mason in 1987. Rissi has performed at The White House, Lincoln Center, and the Grand Ole Opry, has appeared on Oprah & Friends, CNN, the CBS Early Show, and the Tavis Smiley Show. She has shared stages with Taylor Swift, The Eagles, Chris Young, and Charley Crockett, and she has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, People, Parade, Ebony, Newsweek, and The Huffington Post. This summer Rissi just launched Color Me Country, a podcast about the black and brown women of Country/Americana/Roots Music.
The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, was the last full-scale action of the Civil War in which a Confederate army was able to mount a tactical offensive. This major battle, the largest ever fought in North Carolina, was the only significant attempt to defeat the large Union army of Gen. William T. Sherman during its march through the Carolinas in the spring of 1865. Free people of color, American Indians, and enslaved African Americans were also witness to this catastrophic battle.