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.
By N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources