For Queen (City) and Country (Music): Caroline Keller On Making It In Nashville And Breaking It In Charlotte

Photo courtesy of the Caroline Keller Band

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.

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Lights… Camera… Music! Bringing Classical to the Big Screen with the Charlotte Symphony

The Charlotte Symphony performs the music of Star Wars in live concert. Credit: Charlotte Symphony

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.

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Pulling at Those Heartstrings: A ValenTUNE’s Day Conversation with Jason Scavone

Credit: Daniel Coston

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.

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Bakalao Stars on Charlotte’s Golden Age of Rock En Español

Credit: Bakalao Stars

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?

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Scratchin’ the Surface of Charlotte Arts and Music with DJ Fannie Mae

DJ Fannie Mae performing a ground-breaking live set with the Charlotte Ballet in 2015. Credit: Peter Zay – Zayphoto

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.

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Ink Floyd On Being A B(r)and Advocate For Charlotte Music

An Ink Floyd employee prints a design on the printing press. Photo courtesy of Ink Floyd. 

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.

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Amigo’s Alt-Country Finds the Humor in the Heartache

Credit: Lauren Lothery

With such friendly faces and such a friendly band name, you wouldn’t expect Amigo to be one of the darkest rocking country acts in Charlotte. Amigo’s punk-infused-country music highlights the struggles of life (and the light that can be found therein), earning rave reviews along the way from the music magazine No Depression and recognition from Creative Loafing for having the “Best Release of 2018.”

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Lonnie Davis on Planting the Seeds for ‘America’s Classical Music… Jazz’

Credit: Logan Cyrus

Some may recognize jazz as being the lifeblood of New Orleans, but what of Charlotte?  President and CEO of the Jazz Arts Initiative Lonnie Davis shares what it takes to sustain (and evolve) “America’s Classical Music” in the Queen City.

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Neo-Soul Artist Cyanca on Finding Her Way: ‘Your Pain is Equal to Your Breakthrough’

Self-taught on the drums at the age of six. Raised on a mix of A Tribe Called Quest, Chuck Berry, and Lauryn Hill. Taking meetings with Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation before her debut release even dropped in 2017. Just like her music, the stories of up-and-coming R&B star Cyanca are anything but ordinary.

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In a World of Music Streaming, Charlotte’s Lunchbox Records Keeps on Spinning

Lunchbox Records is one of the most recognizable record stores in the Charlotte area, not only because it’s painted a very bright blue, but also because of its impact in the music community.

It’s known for hosting in-store performances for all ages, stocking records from local acts and even selling concert tickets for Charlotte venues. It may seem like we’re in an age of music streaming, but Lunchbox Records owner Scott Wishart shows that, in actuality, we’re in a record renaissance.

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