Marvin and Ira Wiggins, Kinston, NC
Alando Mitchell directing a drumline, Wayne County, NC
Louis Armstrong performs, 1959.
Gloria Burks, Wilson, NC
Detail from the Kinston Music Park sculpture.
The James Brown Orchestra with Dick Knight (fifth from left)
The actress Evelyn Whorton in a still from the movie Pitch a Boogie Woogie.
Melvin Parker at the former site of the Sahara Club in Kinston.
Bill Myers from Greenville is a 2014 NC Heritage Award recipient and has led the band, The Monitors, for 50 years.
Maceo Parker’s description of the musicians and instruments that honed his teen-aged experience playing sax makes it clear why five members of James Brown’s renowned band came from his Kinston hometown. In fact, eastern North Carolina has produced some of the most transformative figures in the history of jazz, gospel, and popular music.
Rocky Mount celebrates the birthplace of internationally renowned jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and Greenville holds a festival to honor jazz artist Billy Taylor. Little Eva’s number one hit Loco-Motion helped put Kinston on the map. Asheville-born Roberta Flack began her career teaching music in Wilson and singing with the jazz band The Monitors. Reverend F.C. Barnes was inspired to compose Rough Side of the Mountain on eastern North Carolina roads.
African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina is the first publication designed to help travelers explore African American music in eastern North Carolina. Researchers, writers, and photographers have worked with local residents and arts organizations to provide in-depth insiders’ views of music and musicians.
After checking out the sights, sounds, and events along the African American Music Trails you might want to explore the crop of casual and upscale restaurants that have sprouted along the way.