Courtesy of Laughing Penguin Publicity

Kenny and Amanda Smith have been professional musicians as a duo for 15 years but have been playing music together as husband and wife for decades. The pair's new album is called "Unbound." Amanda Smith was a nominee for Female Vocalist of the Year, and Kenny Smith was nominated for Instrumental Performer of the Year on the guitar in the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Awards.

Stefan Litwin is a piano composer and music professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Hans Joachim Zylla

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from February 8, 2016. 

For Stefan Litwin, playing the piano is personal. Litwin was born in Mexico City in 1960 after his parents fled from the Nazis in Europe years earlier.

He grew up speaking three languages but always felt like an outsider. He went on to study piano in Switzerland and the United States, all the while channeling his family's experience in the Holocaust through composing music.

Orquesta GarDel
DL Anderson

Orquesta GarDel has been playing a type of high-energy Latin and jazz fusion for ten years. However, the 13-piece band has gone through several iterations as band members have come and gone, but the group has maintained its mission to bring traditional Latin sounds with jazz influences to local audiences.

Host Frank Stasio talks with the group's co-director Eric Hirsh and lead vocalist Christina Alamo about the band's progress.

Photo of Prince from "Purple Rain"
Sound Opinions / Flickr

Music can transport people to a particular time and place in a way that not many other things can. And for that reason, it has become an essential element of film.

Sometimes music is used as a tool to underscore a particular emotion or theme, and in other instances it is so distinct and memorable that it becomes a character of its own.

photo of Rapsody

This program originally aired July 11, 2016.

Growing up in the small town of Snow Hill, N.C., Marlanna Evans, a.k.a Rapsody, wasn't exposed to much hip-hop music. She would listen to the songs her older cousins played in the car, but she didn't develop a love for rap until college.

While attending North Carolina State University, Evans helped a hip-hop culture grow on campus with a student music group that would meet in a dormitory lounge to rap battle. She eventually started making her own rhymes and met producer and Jamla Records founder 9th Wonder.

Photo of Curly Seckler and Charlie Monroe
Curly Seckler

Curly Seckler grew up a farming kid in the tiny town of China Grove, NC and liked to listen to the Monroe Brothers on the radio.

Eventually, he became one of the forebearers of bluegrass music as a part of the Foggy Mountain Boys. Seckler's iconic mandolin style and tenor harmonies carved a music career that spanned more than 50 years.

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

For the next episode of "Movies on the Radio," The State of Things is asking, what is your favorite movie about music? 

Did you enjoy the humorous depiction of rock stars in "Almost Famous?" Were you moved by the dramatic portrait of Mozart in "Amadeus?" Do you still remember the soundtracks of "American Graffiti" and "Jaws?" Film experts Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes will examine how movies depict musicians and the music industry and discuss memorable movie music.

photo of Rissi Palmer
Rissi Palmer

Singer-songwriter Rissi Palmer exploded onto the country music scene in 2007 with a self-titled album. She sang alongside Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, and her single "Country Girl" was the first song by an African-American woman artist to make the country Billboard charts in almost two decades.

photo of Violet Bell
Lizzy Ross

After spending four years making music in Nashville, singer-songwriter Lizzy Ross began to feel homesick.

Ross grew up in North Carolina, went to UNC-Chapel Hill and started her career in the Triangle music scene. While Nashville was filled with passionate and impressive musicians, she missed being part of a community that she felt really embraced diverse creative expressions.

An image of Durham-based music producer 9th Wonder
Creative Silence


Between the beats and rhymes of every hip-hop song is a story. A rapper catches a snapshot of their experiences with the lyrics. Meanwhile, the DJ or producer often samples older songs for the beat, in turn creating a lineage of music.

photo of Brett Harris
Jeremy Lange

Durham-based singer-songwriter Brett Harris didn't grow up in a musical family, but he has found one in the Triangle.

Harris is a touring member of The dB's and a core member of Big Star’s Third, a group that recreated '70s rock group Big Star’s album “Third” with live on-stage performances. In his new solo album, “Up in the Air,” Harris lets his strengths as a songwriter and storyteller shine on an original set of indie-pop songs.

photo of Jamie Anderson and Dianne Davidson in The State of Things studio.
Charlie Shelton

Jamie Anderson and Dianne Davidson have been touring for more than 30 years as leading singer/songwriters in the women's music scene.

In the 1970s, a collective group of women came out of labels like Olivia Records and empowered and promoted women musicians across the country.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Anderson and Davidson about the legacy of this music scene and how it has shaped their songwriting. They also perform live in the studio with Anderson on vocals, guitar and mandolin and Davidson on vocals and guitar.

State of Things Host Frank Stasio hosts a broadcast at the Duke Chapel on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 to commemorate the chapel's reopening.
Duke Photography

Duke University has reopened the iconic chapel at the center of its Durham campus after a $19 million renovation.

Crews have been working for a year to restore the limestone walls and ceiling that define the chapel's Gothic architecture. 

In a special broadcast at Duke Chapel, university archivist Valerie Gillispie told WUNC’s "The State of Things" the chapel has served as an institutional icon at Duke for nearly 90 years.

Jim Avett
Crackerfarm (Mike Beyer)

  For Jim Avett, music is just as much a part of life as eating and sleeping. The son of a minister and a pianist, Jim grew up singing in the church choir and playing several musical instruments. 

AP IMAGE: A conference at UNC-Chapel Hill looks at Austrian composer Hanns Eisler and how he broadcast political messages through contemporary compositions.
Herbert K. White / Associated Press

Musicians have used their songs to filter political messages for decades, from Bob Dylan's song "Blowin' in the Wind" to Kendrick Lamar's song "Alright."

But in the early 1900s, Austrian composer Hanns Eisler was a pioneer in the way contemporary artists use political themes in their music. A conference at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explores Eisler's work and his ability to subversively broadcast political messages through contemporary compositions.

The Knights is a NYC-based orchestral collective that's flexible in size and repertory. Their concert opens the inaugural season of new Asheville-based arts organization Free Range Asheville.
Sarah Small

Asheville is quickly becoming a go-to national destination for music, art and culture.

And the new organization “Free Range Asheville” is aiming to make the city’s cross-disciplinary art scene accessible to people of all ages and economic backgrounds.

They open their inaugural season with a performance by “The Knights,” an orchestral collective that is adapting classical music for a modern audience.

Mallarmé HIP ensemble
Marc Banka Photography

The biennial North Carolina HIP (Historically Informed Performance) Music Festival hosted by Mallarmé Chamber Players is back this year with expanded programming. The festival features Baroque music played on period string instruments, which tend to sound richer, mellower and less edgy than modern counterparts.

The Mallarmé Chamber Players will play a two-part concert called the Biber Bowl featuring the Rosary Sonatas, 16 movements interpreting events from the lives of Jesus and Mary.

Composer Joelle Wallach is this year's artist in residence at Meredith College. She has been composing for more than three decades and also gives pre-concert lecutres at the New York Philharmonic.
Joelle Wallach

Joelle Wallach is the kind of composer who knows what her work will sound like long before her composition actually makes it onto the page.

She does not use composition technology or software, but instead relies on her ear and her instinct. She has been composing for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo voices and choruses for more than three decades and is an artist in residence at Meredith College in Raleigh this weekend.

Robert Lawson / North Carolina Central University

Elvira Green's prolific career as an opera singer catapulted her from the choir room at her church in Greensboro to the chambers of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

She was one of the few African-American women to break into a permanent spot at the Met during the 1970s, and her success as a mezzo-soprano has taken her all over the world.

She performed her signature role as Maria in the opera "Porgy and Bess." 

Ray Benson is the leader of the country band 'Asleep at the Wheel' and has been touring for more than 40 years.
Bismeaux Productions

Asleep at the Wheel has toured as country swing band for more than 40 years. Along the way, they picked up nine Grammys and played alongside musicians like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

Alexandrea Lassiter

Mint Julep Jazz Band transports its audience back to jazz clubs of the ‘20s, ‘30s and early ‘40s. The bang gets inspiration and musical creativity from the toe tapping and head nodding of swing dance, something inextricably linked to the jazz of this time period.

Earlier this year, Mint Julep Jazz Band released its second album, “Battle Axe,” an amalgam of original pieces inspired by that era as well as modern arrangements of old songs.

BJ Leiderman composed the theme songs of several popular NPR shows.
Cole and Rian Photography

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

You might not know BJ Leiderman, but there is a good chance you have heard his music.

Photo of Arab composer Suad Bushnaq
Suad Bushnaq

Suad Bushnaq was born and raised in Amman, Jordan. She composed her first piece of music, a simple birthday song for her brother, when she was just 9 years old. She is now one of a handful of Arab women composers in the world. Her compositions are featured in documentaries and films like “The Curve,” a feature film recently selected at the Dubai International Film Festival.

Pianist Pamela Howland creates musical arrangments using the sounds of The Beatles with a classical music influence.
John Chapman

Pianist Pamela Howland has had a long love affair with legendary Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin. She wrote a one-woman show about his life and documented his roots in a film.

Dale Watson
Sarah Wilson

Guitarist Dale Watson feels out of place in the modern country music world, and he is perfectly OK with that. The Texas musician believes the genre has changed so much that it lost its identity, so he created a new genre of his own—Ameripolitan.

Ameripolitan music is original music with prominent roots influence, and the genre’s tagline is, "We’re not about leaving country music behind, we’re taking the ‘real’ country music with us."