Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Website Preserves Soul in Durham's History

Durham has a big heart and a vibrant soul, but did you know that it was once a hotbed for soul music in the 1960s and 70s?

Bull City Soul, a new website, brings the story of Durham's local rhythm and blues, funk, and soul and their place in black cultural life and community in 1960s and ‘70s. The site displays information, artwork and music gathered from Carolina soul music expert Jason Perlmutter, historian Joshua Clark Davis, and graphic designer Lincoln Hancock, in collaboration with the Durham County Library’s North Carolina Collection.

The site features an “Origins and Influences” section that reveals the influence of nationally know figures with Durham connections—Clyde McPhatter of The Drifters, gospel great Shirley Caesar, and comedian Pigmeat Markham of “Here Comes the Judge” fame. “On the Air” and “Soul Spots” are windows into where fans heard the music—from WAFR radio and J. D. Lewis’s “Teenage Frolics” TV show to the Baby Grand Club. The “Artists” section includes acts such as Tracy and the Jammers, the Shamrocks, and John Snells. Snells, known as “The He, The She, The It,” may have been the most popular soul singer in Durham not to put out a soul record. Infamous for his live shows performed in drag, he was backed up by a gender-bending singing group called the Rocksteady Dancers.

Listen to singles by bands such as Johnny White and NCCU, find out about spots like Snoopy’s and the Stallion Club where they played, and get a feel for the times and the context in which the music was created.

For more about Durham's music history, learn about the Piedmont Blues, or search for current music events on the Durham Event Calendar.

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