2018 Oxford American Music Issue Features North Carolina: Nina Simone on the Cover Singing Circles & Literary Readings Slated Week of Nov. 26 to Dec. 1


The Oxford American Magazine’s 20th annual Southern Music Issue celebrates the musical legacy of North Carolina and features an artistic portrait of North Carolina native Nina Simone, the High Priestess of Soul, on the cover. 

Simone, born and raised in Tryon, N.C., is celebrated as an icon of American music in the 160-page issue, along with Earl Scruggs, Elizabeth Cotten, John Coltrane, 9th Wonder, and James Taylor. 

Scheduled to hit newsstands Tuesday, Nov. 20, the North Carolina issue was made possible by the support of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the North Carolina Arts Council, Visit North Carolina, Arts Greensboro and the North Carolina Humanities Council.

“The roots of so many genres of American music started right here in North Carolina,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “We are delighted that the Oxford American will bring these stories to life to celebrate our music heritage.”

An essay on the state’s musical heritage written by Wayne Martin, executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council, is included in the issue as well as a map featuring North Carolina music trivia and illustrations of our iconic North Carolina musicians. 

The issue also includes a CD of recordings from North Carolinians from 1924 to 2018. The compilation highlights legends such as Simone, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, James Taylor and Elizabeth Cotten. Detailed liner notes and essays on the songs were written by Rhiannon Giddens, Wiley Cash, Ron Rash, Michael Parker, David Joy, David Menconi, and Randall Kenan, among others.

Other literary luminaires from North Carolina contributed essays and profiles about music, including Jill McCorkle on Beach Music; Dasan Ahanu on 9th Wonder; Dave Tompkins on George Clinton and Abigail Covington on Liquid Pleasure. 

To celebrate the North Carolina Issue Oxford American has scheduled music and literary events Monday, Nov. 26 to Saturday, Dec. 1.

Co-presented by Hillsborough, N.C. based Yep Roc Records, and designed in partnership with North Carolina native singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, the celebration features three Statewide Singing Circles and literary readings in Raleigh, Charlotte and Asheville that highlight stories from the North Carolina issue.   

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the North Carolina Arts Council and North Carolina Humanities Council, Visit North Carolina, ArtsGreensboro, Bob Nocek Presents, Maxx Music, Isis Music Hall, Pinhook, Letters Bookshop, Free Range Brewing, and Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café have joined Oxford American to sponsor these events.

Kick-off reception
North Carolina Executive Mansion
Raleigh, N.C., 5:30 to 7 p.m.

A reception with readings and music to be followed by a full 90-minute concert at Fletcher Opera Theater. Entry is limited via Ticketmaster.com as part of a VIP admission to the Fletcher Opera Theater concert that evening. 

Statewide singing circle
Fletcher Opera Theater
Raleigh, North Carolina, 7:30 p.m. 

In partnership with Bob Nocek Presents, the Statewide Singing Circle features Tift Merritt, ASM (Alexandra Sauser-Monnig of Mountain Man), Shirlette Ammons, Chatham County Line, Phil Cook, Alice Gerrard, Big Ron Hunter, Chris Stamey, Mary Dobbin Williams, and other surprise guests. 
Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com and range from $27 to $65 (VIP).
Please note that VIP tickets include entry to the pre-concert reception at the Executive Mansion.

Stories from the issue
The Pinhook
Durham, N.C., 6:30 p.m.
Presented in partnership with Pinhook and Letters Bookstore, the event will feature stories from the issue with Dasan Ahanu, Sarah Bryan, Benjamin Hedin, Jill McCorkle, Mark Powell, and Tom Rankin, and musical guests Tift Merritt and Phil Cook.

Stories from the issue
Free Range Brewing
Charlotte, N.C., 7 p.m.

Statewide singing circle 
Booth Playhouse
Charlotte, North Carolina, 7:30 p.m.

Presented in partnership with Maxx Music, the Statewide Singing Circle will feature Tift Merritt, Chócala, Phil Cook, David Childers, writer Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Benji Hughes, Bill Noonan, Thomas Rhyant, and other surprise guests. Tickets are available via CarolinaTix.org, and range from $20 to $28. 

Statewide singing circle
Isis Music Hall
Asheville, North Carolina, 8:30 p.m.

Presented in partnership with Isis Music Hall, the Statewide Singing Circle features Tift Merritt, poet Nickole Brown, Pat Mother Blues Cohen, Mike Guggino, Amanda Anne Platt, Jimmy Landry, Michael Libramento, Tyler Ramsey, Graham Sharp, Shannon Whitworth, Woody Platt, and other surprise guests. Tickets are available via IsisAsheville.com, and are $20.  

Stories from the issue
Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café
Asheville, N.C., 3 p.m.

Presented in partnership with Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café, the event features Nickole Brown, Wiley Cash, David Joy, Jon Kirby, Malinda Maynor Lowery, and C.L. White, and musical guest Tift Merritt.

Born Eunice Kathleen Wayman in Tryon (Polk County), her range of material included jazz, spirituals, folk songs, blues, pop and classical. The nation’s first African American concert pianist, Simone died at age 70 in 2003 after a long career that made her a soul legend and civil rights icon.
At the time the BBC declared: “Nina Simone was one of the last divas of jazz and was considered one of the finest songwriters and musicians of her day.”

In June 2018, the childhood home of Nina Simone in Tryon was designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Four African American artists joined forces to purchase the house in order to preserve Simone’s legacy. The artists included conceptual artist Adam Pendleton, sculptor and painter Rashid Johnson, collagist and filmmaker Ellen Gallagher and abstract painter Julie Mehretu.

The purchase caught the interest of the National Trust, which had recently started a $25 million campaign to preserve historical sites related to African-American history. The state’s African American Heritage Commission is working with state and national partners to create awareness about the home through various fundraising efforts.

Much of Simone’s best-remembered songs. Including “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” and “Blackash Blues” were civil rights anthems on topics ranging from the condemnation of Jim Crow laws to addressing the assassination of Medgar Evers and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Alabama.  

In 2010, Rolling Stone named Simone to its list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, clocking in a No. 29 ahead of Neil Young, Elton John and Bruce Springsteen.

To pre-order copies of the North Carolina Music issue click here.

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