Arts Across NC

Arts Across NC is a podcast by and about the North Carolina Arts Council. Our rich artistic traditions have contributed to the state’s vitality and identity for centuries. Join host Sandra Davidson as she talks with artists and arts leaders about the public value of the arts across North Carolina, and explores how the N.C. Arts Council is building on 50 years of leadership to create a better tomorrow for all.


Episode 12: Arvil Freeman

Arvil Freeman likes to say, "I can teach you to play, but how good you’ll be depends on you."

He’s talking about fiddling. Arvil Freeman is one of western North Carolina’s most respected fiddlers and fiddle instructors, and he’ll receive the North Carolina Heritage Award on May 23 for his life-long devotion to the region’s traditional music. His long career is full of moments with bluegrass heavy-lifters, but he’s proudest of his work as a fiddle instructor. For him it’s personal. In this special podcast profile, Arvil freeman explains why.

This episode features original music from Arvil Freeman. Tickets to the North Carolina Heritage Awards are available at www.pinecone.org.

Episode 11: Dick Knight

Dick Knight is a professional musician, retired school teacher, and 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award recipient. He's is one of several excellent soul, R&B and funk musicians with deep ties to eastern North Carolina, but his Kinston story is an unlikely one. In this episode of Arts Across NC, we get the scoop on how Kinston led this music-loving Georgia native to James Brown, and a fulfilling career as an arts educator. Meet Dick Knight.

The episode features original music from The Monitors and a clip from James Brown's Grits & Soul album. Tickets to the North Carolina Heritage Awards are available at www.pinecone.org.

Episode 10: Asha Bala

Asha Bala is a passionate advocate, instructor, and performer of Bharatanatyam, an ancient South Indian classical dance, that communicates ancient Hindu spiritual stories through intricate hand gestures, facial expressions, and footwork.  She first encountered the dance as a young child in Mumbai in the 1950s during an era of national cultural revitalization in a newly independent India. She's performed Bharatnatyam throughout the world, and today she's on a mission  to make it a celebrated American dance form. She's used two graduate degrees in dance to teach over 500 North Carolinians about the dance since moving here in the early 2000s. Meet Asha Bala.

Tickets to the North Carolina Heritage Awards are available at www.pinecone.org.

Episode 9: Tony Williamson

In this episode, we meet Tony Williamson, a 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award recipient and mandolin virtuoso, whose musical journey has taken him all over. It’s carried him to stages around the world where he’s played with bluegrass greats like Bill Monroe, Sam Bush, and Ricky Skaggs. It’s transported him into a hospital room where he was told he’d never play music again, and it’s led him to an Ashram in Taiwan, where he sought reinvention through Eastern philosophy. But before the big successes, crippling accidents, and spiritual awakenings, there was his family’s home in rural Randolph county and that’s where it all began.

Tickets to the North Carolina Heritage Awards are available at www.pinecone.org. This episode features music by Tony Williamson.

BONUS: Sawmill Man

Sawmilling is heritage for Glenn Bolick, a potter, musician, storyteller from Caldwell County. Glenn is a fifth-generation sawmill man, and in this bonus episode, he performs "Sawmill Man," one of his signature songs.

Glenn and Lula Bolick will be honored at the 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award Ceremony on May 23 in Raleigh. Tickets are available at  www.pinecone.org.

Episode 8: Glenn and Lula Bolick

In this special season of Arts Across NC, we meet the 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award recipients who will be celebrated at a performance and ceremony on May 23, 2018 in Raleigh, NC. These artists are being honored for deepening awareness of the stories, music, and artistry that encompass and define North Carolina's diverse cultural traditions.

Glenn and Lula Bolick have carried many traditions of North Carolina's mountains and piedmont into the 21st century through the pottery and music they've made together for over 50 years. In this episode Lula, a fifth-generation potter from Seagrove, NC, and Glenn, a fourth-generation sawmill man from Caldwell County, reflect on their lifetime commitment to preserving and sharing their family traditions.

Tickets to the North Carolina Heritage Awards are available at www.pinecone.org. This episode features music by Phil Cook, and the Bolick Family.

50 for 50: M.C. Taylor and Phil Cook




M.C. Taylor and Phil Cook are two anchors of Durham's indie music community. Phil is known for making music with his band Megafaun and The Guitarheels and for playing in M.C.'s American folk band Hiss Golden Messenger, an outfit widely praised for its genre-blending soul-searching music. In this episode, they reflect on how collaboration, community, and a deep appreciation for North Carolina's music history define their artistry.

This episode featured original music created by Phil Cook for the 50 for 50 project, and excerpts from two Hiss Golden Messenger songs: Caledonia and Heart Like a Levee.

50 for 50: Phil and Pierce Freelon




Creativity is at the heart of the Freelon family. In an intimate conversation, Phil Freelon, best known for leading the design team of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and his son Pierce Freelon, Durham-based hip-hop artist and professor, open up about how the arts define their family. 

Episode 7: Whirligigs in Wilson

Vollis Simpson may be North Carolina's most famous self-taught artist. His massive, whimsical whirligigs have attracted curious travelers to eastern North Carolina for decades, and they now anchor the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in historic downtown Wilson. In this episode, we explore how the park came to be, and why it's now a national model for arts driven economic development.

Episode 6: The Statewide Arts Celebration

North Carolina's Statewide Arts Celebration has officially begun. Arts organizations in all 100 counties have dedicated arts events to the North Carolina Arts Council's 50th Anniversary. The 175+ concerts, exhibits, performances, festivals, and classes that make up the celebration showcase the many ways North Carolinians participate in the arts and create art. In this episode, Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council, reflects on what the celebration says about the future of the arts in our state.

Episode 5: Generation Now at the National Folk Festival



North Carolina is known for its traditional arts, and they are thriving in the hands of millennial artists. This weekend, the diversity and vibrancy of our state's evolving cultural heritage will be celebrated in the NC Folklife Area of the National Folk Festival in Greensboro, NC. In this episode, Sally Peterson, the Folklife Director at the North Carolina Arts Council, makes a compelling case for supporting the next generation of traditional artists, and listeners get a preview of what to expect this weekend at the National Folk Festival.

50 for 50: David Sedaris

David Sedaris moved from Binghamton, NY to Raleigh, NC right before he started the third grade, and one of the first words he learned here was Yankee. Adjusting to life in North Carolina wasn't easy, but David found his place in the arts. In an exclusive interview for the North Carolina Arts Council's 50 for 50 Project, best-selling author David Sedaris shares his North Carolina arts story.

Episode 4: This Is A Major Contemporary Dance Institution


Forty years ago, the American Dance Festival moved to Durham, NC. Every summer since, one of America’s most important dance institutions has attracted choreographers, dancers and audiences from all over the world to the heart of North Carolina for a six week-long modern dance festival.  
The North Carolina Arts Council was an avid supporter of ADF from the very beginning. In this episode, Nancy Trovillion, the North Carolina Arts Council's Deputy Director, and Jodee Nimerichter, ADF’s Executive Director, reflect on the festival’s roots in North Carolina and its longstanding relationship with the Arts Council. This episode features The Force by The Monitors, a recording featured on the North Carolina Arts Council's African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina CD.

Episode 3: The Artist Next Door


Artists matter in North Carolina. As creators, interpreters and educators, they play an instrumental role in the vitality of our state. In 1980, the North Carolina Arts Council solidified the State's commitment to artists by creating the Artist Fellowship Program. Since then, the N.C. Arts Council has awarded over $5 million to hundreds of artists to support artist development and encourage new work. In this episode, Jeff Pettus, Senior Program Director for Artists & Organizations, who oversees the fellowship program, reflects on the mission of the program. Fellowship recipients David Joy, Shirlette Ammons and Daniel Wallace reflect on how receiving the fellowship shaped their careers. 

This episode features The Force by The Monitors, a recording featured on the North Carolina Arts Council’s African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina CD

Episode 2: Celebrating Chuck Davis


Raleigh native Charles R. “Chuck” Davis, who became one of the world’s foremost teachers and choreographers of African dance, is being remembered across North Carolina and the country today for his artistry, his contributions to American dance and his ability to use art to promote peace and healing.

A distinguished teacher, choreographer, and ambassador for dance, Davis passed away at his home on Sunday, May 14. He founded the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York in 1968 and, in 1982, returned to his native North Carolina to create the African American Dance Ensemble.

Earlier this Spring, Davis was interviewed by Arts Council staff for its 50th Anniversary celebration and recalled his work with the Arts Council. Here’s an excerpt from his conversation.

Episode 1: Welcome to Arts Across NC


Founded in 1967, the North Carolina Arts Council grew out of the national statewide arts movement. In the first podcast episode of Arts Across NC, North Carolina Arts Council Executive Director Wayne Martin joins host Sandra Davidson to talk about the council’s early vision, his personal connection to the arts and what’s in store for the North Carolina Arts Council’s 50th Anniversary season.