North Carolina Arts Council

    

The Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina are the center of a rich history of music and dance, from musicians like Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs, to traditions like ballad singing and square dancing. 

Bill Myers, 2014
NC Arts Council

Bill Myers was honored this week with a North Carolina Heritage Award. Myers is a saxophone player, and he's led the jazz band The Monitors for close to 60 years.

Bill's earliest introduction to music was when the minstrel shows came through Eastern North Carolina in the 1940s.

Black and White Portrait of Billy Taylor sitting at piano, New York, N.Y., ca. 1947
Library of Congress via Flickr

Eastern North Carolina has yielded a rich crop of nationally recognized African American musicians. People like jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.

But many musicians hailing from this part of the state have gone unnoticed. A new book, African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina, takes readers on a musical journey through this overlooked region.

Here are five musicians whose roots run deep in Eastern Carolina:

A task force of civic, arts, and business leaders says the arts can be an economic engine for North Carolina. The panel has released recommendations as part of the SmART Initiative. It's mapping out ways for communities to use the arts to increase jobs and quality of life.