Popular musical tastes were much different then compared to what they are at present-no shakin' your booty or shagin' on the pier in those early colonial days. The musical society was greatly influenced by British tastes. Works of concert composers then favored in London were heard in Charleston between 1766 and 1820, the year the concert series came to an end. Musical tastes were changing, a country wide financial crisis unraveled the local economy and induced the society to curtail its activities. The society still exists today. The organization has a punch named after it called the St. Cecilia Society Punch.
Over the next two hundred years music has morphed in the Lowcountry. A period of time significant in the evolution of music in Charleston was the early 1900's. The Gullah culture of Charleston's sea island and its dock workers played a huge role in the development of what would become America's classical music, jazz and everything associated with it. Step aside New Orleans, jazzy Charleston humbly and quite possibly predates you, if you were to consider the evidence and the sociological development of enslaved Africans where European art was Africanized.
|Avery Research Center|
Many Charleston musicians of that period learned their craft with the Jenkins Orphanage Bands who were taught and trained at Charleston’s Jenkins Orphanage, one of the country’s first private black orphanages. Others were taught and trained at a school founded in 1865, Charleston’s Avery Normal Institute, now the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. The Center is located on the site of the former Avery Normal Institute at the College of Charleston.
In 1923, James P. Johnson, composed a song bearing the cities name using the driving rhythm of ragtime. Cecil Mack penned the lyrics for the song, but the words are relatively unknown in comparison to the tune. A dance of the same name was inspired by the song that became a dance synonymous with the 20's, the "Charleston". Everybody in the country was twisting their feet and kicking up their heels and the dance found a permanent place in musical history all due to the cities cultural influences. At the time, the "Charleston" was considered an immoral and provocative dance. Little did they know what was yet to come.
|Darius Rucker in concert|
Today, Charleston is still a cultural center for the musical arts. The Spoleto Festival and its compliment, Piccolo Spoleto, are proof of Charleston's immeasurable contribution to the performing arts. The two festivals feature music of all genres ranging from classical to jazz. Their mission is to present programs of the highest artistic caliber with a mix of distinguished artists and emerging talent both internationally and locally. Over the years Charleston has produced some phenomenal talent.
August 17 and 18 one of Charleston's sons, Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, will perform a concert at Family Circle Magazine Stadium called Homegrown. The band came together in 1986 while in college at USC. Hootie and the Blowfish plays a mainstream pop variation of blues-rock, with an easy-going sound. Since debuting in 1994, the band has produced a string of Top 40 hits and sold over 25 million albums over the years. This is their 8th consecutive time at the Family Circle Magazine Stadium. They established the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation benefiting children of South Carolina through education and supporting school music programs. You can purchase tickets for the concert.
|Eddie Bush and myself|
Eddie Bush is another homegrown talent and a Charleston favorite. From the time he decided music was his calling, and that was a very early age, Eddie committed himself to becoming a great guitar player, which he has accomplished. He astounds his audiences with his fiery guitar licks. He also dedicated himself equally at being an excellent singer and songwriting. He toured with Eric Johnson, played as part of a trio called One Flew South, and has been recognized nationally and locally for writing various moving ballads. I have seen Eddie perform on many occasions throughout the Charleston area. I have met Eddie personally and he is as engaging one on one as he is on the stage. He makes you feel like he is your next door neighbor, which in my case Eddie is a close neighbor. For the list of Eddie's future engagements, click here for his calendar.
New musical talent continues to emerge in the Lowcountry. A young singer/songwriter I call "Summerville's Sweetheart" is making inroads into the local pop scene. Like any journey, it begins with the first step. Chelsea Summers began her journey at the age of thirteen, teaching herself to play guitar. Her first venue was outside her mother's store on W Richardson Ave in Summerville. She played for the Third Thursday crowds who gathered on the brick patio in front of the store to share some light conversation and refreshing beverages courtesy the Summers. It was then and there I first discovered Chelsea. I was captivated. You could compare her to Taylor Swift or Hilary Duff, but she is uniquely Chelsea. I have closely watched Chelsea hone her acoustic skills, sweet vocals and emerging stage presence. She has opened for Parachute, attended Nashville Songwriter’s Association International Advanced Songwriter’s Camp, and recently returned to Nashville. Her newly released CD features her own works and the songs are soulful and soothing. Click here for the list of venues she will be appearing at around the Lowcountry.