The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and the North Carolina Arts Council are proud to announce that the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina is now under the stewardship of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission.
North Carolina was one of the first states in the nation to celebrate its music heritage by researching and developing music trails. In 2013, after establishing the Blue Ridge Music Trails of Western North Carolina in the early 2000s, the North Carolina Arts Council developed the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina to celebrate some of the most transformative figures in the history of jazz, gospel, and popular music. “We work in all things history, art, and culture, so music fits naturally into our work,” says Adrienne Nirdé, Associate Director of the African American Heritage Commission.
For at least a century, African American musicians from Kinston and the surrounding region have played key roles in the development of several forms of American music: jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, and gospel music. The cultural trail also includes The Kinston Music Park, which was dedicated in 2014 to celebrate the important contributions of eastern North Carolina musicians. The park is filled with vibrant artwork, listening stations, and has an outdoor stage for performances. Angela Thorpe, Director of the African American Heritage Commission says, “The people of North Carolina can expect unique and innovative digital content, traveling exhibits, and family programs. We look forward to breathing new life into the trails.”
The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission is already quite familiar with the work of heritage trails in North Carolina. The music trail will be joining the Commission’s existing family of heritage trails including the North Carolina Civil Rights Trail, Oasis Spaces: North Carolina Green Book Project, and Freedom Roads. Planning for this new phase of the music trail is already underway. Upcoming components include the continued touring of traveling exhibits, community engagement sessions, digital engagement, and programming that is scheduled to launch in 2023.
About the N.C. African American Commission:
Created in 2008, the African American Heritage Commission is a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The Commission works across the department to preserve, protect and promote the state’s African American history, art and culture for all people. Its endeavors include the identification of heritage sites, compiling resources for educators, extending the work of national programs such as the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Underground Railroad, and independent initiatives including the NC Civil Rights Trail. aahc.nc.gov
About the North Carolina Arts Council
Founded in 1967 with the democratic vision of “arts for all citizens,” the North Carolina Arts Council sustains and grows the arts for the benefit of North Carolinians and their communities. The Arts Council strives to deliver resources for arts development to all 100 counties of the state through programs that are fair, transparent, and accountable. The Arts Council is an agency of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. A 24-member citizen board, appointed by the Governor, advises the Secretary of the Department on policies, programs, and research that support arts development across North Carolina. Learn more at NCArts.org.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please visit www.ncdcr.gov.