Bluegrass: North Carolina's Global Music
“Bluegrass: North Carolina’s Global Music” (grades 6-12) picks up the international and historical themes from Charles Pettee’s “Bluegrass Stomp” (grades 3-5) program, and expands on these for middle and high school audiences. Singing and performing on guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonica, Mr. Pettee surveys the development of American folk music over time, and shows how NC Bluegrass is a product of many cultures from many parts of the globe. Pettee starts in the present, performing an up-tempo Appalachian fiddle tune, followed by a contemporary vocal song in a Bluegrass style. He then takes his audience back into the late 1700s, when there was, basically, no distinct “American” music yet. Pettee performs a few numbers from these earlier days, giving the audience a sense of the sounds of the times. Continuing the musical timeline, students hear samples of “freedom songs” by enslaved African-Americans (as wells as “Follow the Drinking Gourd” from the underground Railroad movement), followed by some samples of music from the Civil War. With the abolition of slavery, American music began to reflect more and more African influences. By the end of the 1800s, “Blues” tonalities, (Pettee calls these “African sounds” and demonstrates them for the audience), became more and more prominent in southern folk music. This led to the creation of the distinctly American music genre known as Blues, which, in turn gave rise in the 1900s to Bluegrass, Jazz, Rock and Roll, and Hip-Hop. Pettee involves his audience for “Q & A”, and a bit of singing, as he demonstrates the global connections of NC Bluegrass on the guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica and voice. Everyone is invited to “own” a piece of our unique NC sound! “Your presentation was one of the most instructional, entertaining and professional performances we sponsored all year.” (PTSA Cultural Enrichment Committee, East Chapel Hill High School).