Performing Arts Discovery: American Sounds (PAD: American Sounds) is a project of South Arts, in partnership with the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and New England Foundation for the Arts, and with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
PAD: American Sounds is a pilot project introducing presenters from outside the United States to artists representing quintessentially American music – traditional/folk, Native American, jazz, blues, Gospel, zydeco, country, bluegrass and more.
In April 2017, a cohort of 8-10 invited presenters from abroad will attend Merlefest in Wilkesboro, NC, and conduct a curated listening tour in Nashville, TN. During their week-long visit to the region, they will meet and experience the work of traditional and jazz musicians and their management, talk with scholars and folklorists about these unique musical forms, hear and learn about dozens of Southern artists and ensembles, engage with other U.S. presenters, and share their own programming visions. Scholars, folklorists and ethnomusicologists will share historical and contextual information about the music and musicians.
If you are a Southern musician or ensemble with an interest in expanding your touring to international festivals and venues, please contact Mollie Quinlan-Hayes.
In fall 2016, our first cohort of invited presenters from abroad attended showcase and festival performances in the South Arts region. A curated Independent Artist showcase was presented at the Performing Arts Exchange (PAE) 2016, in Orlando, FL. These artists and ensembles were featured
- Marcus Roberts and the Modern Jazz Generation
- The Malpass Brothers
- Jake Fussell
- Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen
- Shana Tucker
- Ron and Natalie Daise
- Lakota John Locklear
- Quentin Baxter
- Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience
These bluegrass artists were also designated by our artistic advisors, and seen/heard by our international presenters during Wide Open Bluegrass:
Artists presented at the Performing Arts Exchange and highlighted from the Wide Open Bluegrass roster were invited based on the input of our Artistic Advisors:
- B. Spellman, Washington DC
- Susan Newberry, Raleigh NC
- Judith Peiser, Memphis TN
- Rob Gibson, Savannah GA
- Josh Kohn, Baltimore MD
- Paul Brohan, Baltimore MD
- Aaron Greenhood and Music Makers Relief Foundation, Hillsborough NC
Blind jazz pianist Marcus Roberts has been called the “genius of the modern piano,” “a star,” “an icon to a whole generation of jazz musicians.” He has won numerous awards and composed countless songs. In August, he premiered his second piano concerto, commissioned by the legendary conductor Seiji Ozawa and performed at the Ozawa Music Festival in Japan. Roberts’ latest touring ensemble, the Modern Jazz Generation, brings together a diversified group of virtuosic musicians of all ages and contrasting personalities. Their style combines soulful bluesy New Orleans music with modern rhythms, grooves, and harmonies to create a powerfully melodic and richly textured sound.
The music of North Carolina’s Malpass Brothers is the real deal, authentic to its core. It is lovingly steeped in the legacy of the Louvin Brothers, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Hank Williams, Sr. and other originals who built the foundation of country music in America. The Malpass Brothers toured with Don Helms, former steel guitarist for Hank Williams, and opened for mentor and iconic music legend Merle Haggard for seven years. With appearances on stages from TV’s Larry’s Country Diner to the U.S. Library of Congress to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, The Malpass Brothers raise high the torch of a truly “American Sound.”
Jake Fussell was born in Columbus, Georgia, in the heart of the Chattahoochee Valley – a region with a deep history of traditional music-making. Jake’s parents documented the region’s folkways, and Jake’s exposure to these expressions cultivated an early interest in music. As a teen, he learned guitar styles from Precious Bryant, played in old-time fiddle bands, and frequented juke joints with Alabama bluesmen George Daniel and Robert Thomas. He lived in Berkeley for several years, playing with Steve Mann, veteran of the West Coast folk scene; then moved to Mississippi, becoming guitarist for gospel singer Reverend John Wilkins and graduating from the University of Mississippi, with a master’s thesis on the history of Choctaw Indian fiddling.
“They loved me—the rest is history because I’ve been singing the Blues ever since.” For years, Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen sang in New Orleans six nights a week, performing at a wide array of venues including House of Blues, until Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home. She relocated to North Carolina and started touring with the Music Maker Blues Revue. During her performances, “Mother Blues” unfurls the tapestry of her life experiences to her audience in soulful words and music. She shares the mettle, pathos and ocean-deep compassion of the famous female blues singers she idolizes—women like Billie, Koko and Etta.
As a cellist, songwriter and vocalist, Shana Tucker’s talents span a seemingly limitless musical palate, weaving rich, deep influences of jazz, folk and acoustic pop into a distinctive American musical tapestry that is “ChamberSoul.” Having balanced concert performances with her role as cellist and mezzo-soprano for Cirque du Soleil for five years, Shana returns home to North Carolina and resumes full-time touring in 2017. Whether at hallowed Spivey Hall in Atlanta, a festival shed in Chicago or in a classroom of wide-eyed 12-year-olds in Carolina, her rapport is as instant as her smile, and the musical “story” to be shared as focused as the song.
Ron and Natalie Daise inform, inspire, and empower. Their writings, productions, and performances raise awareness and interest about Gullah Geechee culture and heritage, the West African-infused culture along the southeastern coast of the United States. Husband-and-wife, the couple starred in and consulted for Nick Jr. TV’s award-winning and internationally broadcast “Gullah Gullah Island.” They are recipients of the South Carolina Order of the Palmetto, the state’ highest honor; and the State of South Carolina Folk Heritage Award, given for lifetime achievement and excellence in folk art that has enriched the lives of the people in their community and state.
John Lakota Locklear, one of Music Maker’s Next Generation Artists, was born in 1997 in Pembroke, North Carolina. A Native American (Lumbee), Lakota John was seven years old when he started playing harmonica and nine years old when he picked up his first guitar. He was intrigued by the sound of the slide guitar and wanted to learn to play. About a year and a half later, he bought himself a glass slide, placed it on his pinky finger and has been sliding ever since.
Quentin E. Baxter, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, comes from a family of drummers with his mother leading the troupe. Currently touring world-wide with Grammy-nominated vocalist and composer René Marie and Grammy-nominated vocal legend Freddy Cole, Baxter’s passion for world-wide performances is paralleled by his dedication to educate, promote, produce, and present world-class artists in his home town. Baxter is currently in the design/development stages of the Baxter Center for Music Performance, Education, and Production – a stand-alone structure designed and dedicated to the presentation and advancement of live music.
With 7,500 performances in 45 countries as part of their extensive resume, this two-time Grammy award-winning accomplished group has been performing for 35 years and shared studio and stage with Randy Newman, Los Lobos, Dave Matthews Band, Dr. John and Stevie Wonder. They’ve been featured in multiple films including Disney’s “Princess & The Frog.” Their dynamic Creole for Kidz and the History of Zydeco has reached 350,000 K-12 students, teachers and administrators. As respected teaching artists they were the first zydeco to be presented at Berklee College of Music Boston, American Roots Music/African studies. They also work regularly with the U.S State Department cultural diplomacy programs.
If you would like occasional updates on PAD: American Sounds, please sign up for our mailing list at http://www.southarts.org/resources/newsletter-signup/ – check “International Cultural Exchange.”