The 10 Charlotte Musicians Who Inspired Us In 2020
Let’s be honest: 2020 was a "record scratch" of a year. But when the music stopped and the venues closed, countless members of our music community stood up and showed out to fill the silence, giving us moments of song, sympathy and solace.
Scroll through to see just some of the Charlotte-area music-makers featured on WFAE’s Amplifier podcast this year who made 2020 better and shined a light toward a brighter 2021.
Beyond being prescient (her critically-acclaimed 2019 EP “I’m Staying Home” seemed to predict our 2020 predicament), neo-soul artist Cyanca is determined to persevere. This calendar year, Cyanca signed to a record label, received her first major placement with super-producers Hit Boy and Dom Kennedy and collaborated on a new release with hip-hop mainstay Elevator Jay. Who said that the pandemic put a “pause” on music?
Rick Thurmond and Dae-Lee Arrington
Long before the outbreak, Grammy-nominated producer David “Dae-Lee” Arrington and Music Everywhere CLT’s Rick Thurmond put in the work to support the health and vibrancy of the Charlotte music ecosystem. That same drive continued during 2020, when the pair partnered with Tosco Music Party on a Charlotte Music Community COVID-19 Relief Fund, which blew past its $25,000 goal to support more than 150 members of the local music community with unrestricted grants.
“Eddie Z at The Playroom is a fantastic guy to work with, and we have certainly found a home there with him and his staff.” - Funk fusion group The Hawthornes
In a year of unrest, Grammy Award-nominated trio The HamilTones cut through the noise with radical sound (“1964”) and joyful splendor (“A HamilTones Christmas”), reinforcing their prowess as one of North Carolina’s most impactful acoustic trios.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders, remote education and virtual programs have seen a massive uptick in recent months. That includes virtual music lessons from organizations like Charlotte’s Bold Music Lessons (co-founded by George Ramsay), which brings music to homes and creates teaching jobs for musicians who’ve lost work as a result of the pandemic.
As soon as the pandemic hit the region, singer-songwriter Brit Drozda got to work on the “Charlotte Music Challenge,” a digital fundraiser to help benefit local music venues that were shuttered due to the coronavirus. She raised about $6,800 with a GoFundMe.
Boris 'Bluz' Rogers
“Bluz is hands-down one of the most talented individuals, full stop. His ability to use language in fluid and impactful ways is only rivaled by his indomitable spirit and inexhaustible support for the city he loves and the creators that come anywhere near his orbit.” - Soulganic lead singer Anthony Rodriguez
“Si Kahn is a folk singer-songwriter, activist and American treasure. He’s a beautiful and brilliant individual and amigo that has made the world a better place for seven decades.” — Charlotte music producer Chris Garges
Earlier this spring, The Platform Music + Culture Series celebrated its first year of artistic connections and curated discussions. In the words of founder and music leader Jermaine Spencer, “Access to information is key to success, and I was seeing that the folks that I talked to weren’t getting that communication and access. The reason I created [The Platform series] was to increase and enhance the music ecosystem of Charlotte, and how you do that is by providing information.”
“We wouldn't be anywhere or anything without Jamie Starks of Tommy's Pub. He gave us our start and continues to root for us. He gives us advice and is just an all-around great friend of ours. I think a lot of bands in Charlotte owe him a great debt and, at the least, a crap-ton of respect.” — Alt-rock band Anchor Detail
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