Host note: This month, Charlotte is capping off its 250th birthday with Charlotte Shout, a creative celebration of the Queen City’s past, present and future. And when one thinks of Charlotte’s musical legacy and inspirations, one likely thinks of Hope Nicholls, who appeared on the very first episode of Amplifier (back when the podcast launched with 20 episodes in 20 days)!So this week, we’re listening back to our interview with Hope… and looking forward to Charlotte’s music future. Enjoy.
Charlotte has changed a great deal in the past 30 years, but a musical constant of sorts has been Hope Nicholls.
The singer-songwriter has kept to her own beat in Charlotte, whether as leader of the CBGB-rocking 80s band Fetchin’ Bones, singer for the Southern indie group It’s Snakes, or owner of the rock ‘n’ roll boutique Boris & Natasha.
“If I had wanted to make a lot of money, I would have gone into a typical Charlotte line of working — like banking or real estate. But, that’s not to me what art is about. It’s about doing what you have to do, and so we have to do something different.”
From contributing music to the hit Cartoon Network show “The Boondocks” to performing with Marsalis jazz family royalty, it’s no wonder Charlotte native Harvey Cummings II has been called a “jazz legend in the making,” mixing the classic riffs of Coltrane with the hip-hop sensibilities of J. Cole.
“We’re trying to push jazz forward, but at the same time, we want to preserve it. We want to keep it. We’ve got to keep explaining the history … As long as everybody supports it, we’re going to be fine. Charlotte’s going to be fine.”
The sights you see, the people you meet, the life experiences that shape your hours, days, and years. How would you paint a picture of your day-to-day? If you were to ask Petrov, named one of Charlotte’s most promising up-and-coming bands, you may find that the best kind of journal is a musical one (or, at the very least, one that is soundtracked by dreamy rock music).
Acceptance is a recurring theme for up-and-coming R&B crooner Dexter Jordan: accepting new friends and collaborators in the Charlotte music community, accepting new sounds and inspiration for his full-length release Blue, accepting grief and the many paths it takes through life and, more importantly, accepting one’s self (the good, the bad and the potential therein).
If you happened to have tuned into the 2019 Grammy Awards in February, you might have confused it for the Country Music Awards. Up-and-coming country star Kacey Musgraves took home some of the biggest awards of the night with “Best Country Album” and “Best Country Song,” not to mention beating out Drake, Cardi B and Post Malone in the coveted all-genre category of “Album of the Year.” And let’s not forget the star-studded tribute to country legend Dolly Parton, featuring performances from Maren Morris, Miley Cyrus and Little Big Town.
If one could say that the pioneering spirit of country music is bringing brought to the forefront of pop culture, one could also say that Caroline Keller is helping bring that Nashville sound to the Queen City.
By the time this interview is released, the film industry will have capped off its awards season with the Oscars. While some focus on the more prominent awards like “Best Actress” or “Best Motion Picture,” it’s just as interesting to look to the more audio-inclined categories of “Best Original Song” and “Best Original Score.” Because music is the heartbeat of film, and music is the color that adds vibrancy to the canvas.
While Christopher James Lees is not a film composer, he is helping bring classical music to the big screen as resident conductor of the Charlotte Symphony. As Lees puts it, the Charlotte Symphony’s “film in concert” performances of “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter” and “Back to the Future” show that classical music is much more than its reputation of being from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Rather, classical music is as timely and transformative as ever before.
In 2006, Billboard Magazine praised Charlotte-based band Noises 10. In the magazine’s words, “The hooks come from all directions in a Noises 10 song, but it’s Jason Scavone’s impassioned vocals that make the band impossible to ignore.”
Since the band parted ways, Jason Scavone has kept his music life quite busy, producing hundreds of artists at Charlotte’s Sioux Sioux Studios, releasing his debut solo release “Finding Today” and even collaborating with Grammy Award-winning Americana star Brandi Carlile.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked Jason Scavone about his love for singing and songwriting, not falling out of love with music given the up’s and down’s of the industry, and what it takes to make a love song come to life.
If you lived in Charlotte in the early 2000’s, you lived through the golden age of Rock En Español in the Queen City. Latin reggae band Bakalao Stars (led by Christian Anzola) took root during this fertile musical period, a time of locally-produced and supported Latin music which was heralded as “the soundtrack of Charlotte’s racial and cultural evolution.”
So what happened to those bands in this city? And what is happening now with Bakalao Stars, one of the remaining Rock En Español acts from that generation?
Any DJ can press play on a pre-made mix of music and hope for the best. But a good DJ is equal parts performer and listener, taking a pulse of the room and translating that feeling into a living mix of songs that taps into the crowd’s mood. And a great DJ is more than just an act, but also a community builder and an advocate for inclusivity.
Charlotte’s DJ Fannie Mae is most definitely in that “great” category, breaking ground as the first DJ for the Charlotte Ballet, as well as the go-to DJ for the Queen City’s museums, clubs and festivals.
Since opening shop in 2006, Ink Floyd has become a visual center for the Charlotte music scene, designing and printing up thousands of posters, shirts and stickers for regional musicians and venues. But it’s more than just promoting audio through visuals. As Ink Floyd owner Dave Collier puts it, it’s about encouraging brand awareness (and support) for bands.