The trail continues

Dec. 20, 2013 @ 09:27 AM

In “African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina,” readers can learn about the contributions of blues harmonica player George Higgs, saxophonist and teacher Geneva Perry, and the Suggs, Yelverton and Speight families who carry on the gospel tradition.
The book is by no means the end of the trail. It is “one major piece of a larger effort to continue to develop and sustain the African-American Music Trail,” said Michelle Lanier of the N.C. Arts Council. The guide focuses on eight eastern North Carolina Counties, but “the big dream would be to have a statewide African-American trail system,” she said.
The project began in 2006, part of the state arts council’s Focus East program to promote economic growth through the arts in eastern N.C. The arts council is developing a companion website scheduled to launch in February. That site will include oral histories and stories of musicians that did not make it into the guide, but are still important to the story, Lanier said.
Recently, the Kinston Music Park, which was inspired by the trails project, was dedicated. It includes a sculpture, along with images and quotes from musicians. A traveling exhibit and concert series also are planned.
The new guide also comes with a 17-track CD that includes music of traditional as well as modern artists like Brian Horton, Shirlette Ammons and Kam Moye. “It’s not just historical music. It’s music that continues to grow,” Lanier said.