Dick Knight

Dick Knight

African American Music Trails Tribute Concert Slated June 1 in Kinston

The North Carolina Arts Council, the Community Council for the Arts, and the SmART Kinston Foundation will present a free concert, Passing on the Legacy, on Friday, June 1 at the Community Council for the Arts at 7 p.m.

The concert is part of an African American Music Trails community celebration, which also includes a storefront display of more than 40 photographs in downtown Kinston that showcase musical pioneers from Kinston and several surrounding counties including Jones, Wilson, and Wayne.

A public reception at the Community Council for the Arts will kick-off the community event from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 400 N. Queen St.

The free concert features an 11-piece band that will play funk, R&B, soul and blues music. Musicians from Lenoir, Nash, Pitt and Wayne counties – all part of the African American Music Trails – will perform at the concert.

Featured performers include Lenoir County’s Dick Knight, a professional multi-instrumental musician. The recipient of a 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award, Knight played with James Brown, Otis Redding, Dionne Warwick, and Gladys Knight. He was also a long-time band director in Kinston public schools.

Joining him on stage will be Eric Dawson, a saxophonist born in Kinston, his father Edward Dawson, longtime host of local Kinston jam sessions, and Clemmie Lee “Fig” Jones, an R&B and rock and roll drummer from Pink Hill.

For decades, musicians from Kinston and the surrounding region have shaped the development of different styles of American music: jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel music. Kinston is often referred to as the birthplace of funk because five members of the legendary James Brown Band were from Kinston.

The storefront exhibition pays tribute to these musical pioneers. Archival posters and photographs that feature musicians from Kinston and surrounding eastern North Carolina counties illuminate the region’s rich African American music legacy. The exhibition will be on view now through the end of the year.

African American Music Trails Community Celebration Activities:

Friday, June 1
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Community Council for the Arts
400 N. Queen Street, Kinston

A Photographic Journey Celebrating the African American Music Trail
6:30 p.m.
Stroll down Queen Street in downtown Kinston to view the storefront display of more than 40 photographs that celebrate the music and musicians featured in the African American Music Trail project.

African American Music Trails All-Star Concert
7 to 9 p.m.
Community Council for the Arts
400 N. Queen Street, Kinston


 Billy Kaye on the drums Jazz Revival Project Celebrates African American Music June 6-7 in Wilson

The North Carolina Arts Council, The Arts Council of Wilson, and the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park will present a free concert, The Jazz Revival Project, Thursday, June 7 at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson. The rain location is the Edna Boykin Cultural Center.

The Jazz Revival Project is a new effort that recognizes and celebrates the jazz heritage of Wilson, which is part of the African American Music Trails.

Legendary jazz drummer, composer, and educator Bill Kaye will perform for the first time in his hometown of Wilson. Kaye will also talk with community members about his journey as a musician during a public listening session on Wednesday, June 6 at 217 Brew Works.

Kaye was born Willie King Seaberry in Wilson in 1932. He learned to play drums during his tenure in the U.S. Air Force and has performed with jazz titans like Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Lou Donaldson, and George Benson. A performer, composer, and educator, Kaye was the featured drummer for jazz workshops at the inaugural Newport Jazz Festival and is currently a music educator in the New York City public school systems through the Jazz Foundation of America’s Jazz Foundation in Schools program.

Kaye has never performed in Wilson. “I’m elated about it,” says Kaye when asked how he feels about the upcoming concert.

He will be accompanied by jazz organist Clarence Palmer, and North Carolina musicians Eric Dawson and Brian Miller, both on saxophone.

Jazz Revival Project events:

Coming home: A conversation with Billy Kaye
Wednesday, June 6
6 to 7:30 p.m.
217 Brew Works, 217 South Street, Wilson

North Carolina Central University drum instructor Thomas Taylor will host a listening session and interview with Billy Kaye. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Arts Council of Wilson, the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, Comfort Suites Hotel, 217 Brew Works, and the N.C. Arts Council.

The Jazz Revival Project featuring Billy Kaye
Thursday, June 7
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
301 Goldsboro Street South, Wilson
Bring your lawn chairs for a relaxed evening of music featuring Wilson native Billy Kaye. Food and beverages will be for sale on site. The rain location is the Boykin Center.