Hall of Famer and Soul Music Great Mavis Staples to Perform in Boone Saturday

photo by Myriam Santos

The Watauga Democrat

Long-time Staples guitarist Rick Holmstrom gives scoop on playing with a legend

by Derek Halsey

While the Staple Singers would go on to produce some of the most important soul music to ever hit the turntables and airwaves in the 1970s, the family band was making their mark with gospel hits in the previous decades. With guitar-driven songs like “Uncloudy Day,” a cut released in 1959 that influenced artists like Bob Dylan and more, the Chicago-based Staple Singers traveled extensively while on tour, including in the South in the time of Jim Crow Apartheid.

Back in the day, Mississippi was the home of Pops and Oceola Staples, a young couple who eventually moved north to Chicago so Pops could work in the mills and plants of Illinois. It was there that Mavis, Pervis, Cleotha and Yvonne Staples were born in the 1930s. As the kids grew up, and with Pops perfecting his soon-to-be-famous tremolo guitar style, the family band went from their beginnings in the church to recording on record labels such as Vee-Jay Records, United Records, Checker Records and eventually the Epic Records label.

Full story HERE.

Béla Fleck’s World Music Troupe Brings Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer to Boone

photo by Jeremy Cowart

The Watauga Democrat

by Derek Halsey

If Béla Fleck was in another line of work, he would be called a “Renaissance Man.” Throughout his whole career, he has been known as a musician who is at home playing many different types of music while finding success going from one project to another.

Fleck came up in the bluegrass world as a young, innovative and open-minded banjo player from New York City who first performed and recorded with the Boston-based band called Tasty Licks. Soon, the future International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Hall of Famer Sam Bush asked Fleck to join the legendary group New Grass Revival in the early 1980s, a gig that lasted about nine years.

Full story HERE.

Yola Hits the Boone Stage

photo by Chase Reynolds

The Appalachian

Arianna Bennet, Reporter

Yola, a six-time Grammy-nominated English singer-songwriter, performed Friday night at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. The concert was a technicolor, powerhouse show. Her charismatic attitude and infectious voice had audience members roaring with enjoyment as they applauded Yola.

Throughout the show, Yola switched between multiple guitars, a tambourine and a music shaker. This, combined with soulful singing and attention grabbing raspiness had audience members brimming with joy as they cheered throughout the performance. It was clear Yola enjoyed performing as she danced along to her music

“The color changes were cool and the way they pulsed was cool,” said Gigi Upchurch, a senior elementary education major.  “Then I really liked when it was the yellow lights behind her, and then dark the rest of the stage so it made a frame around her.”

The lighting design of the show helped to emphasize the pace as well as engage the audience. For audience members, the flashing lights and booming music made the experience quite electric.

“In the program it said that she was genre bending, and that’s what it was.” said Lily Vowels, a senior geology major.

Yola performed covers of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John and “Day Dreaming” by Aretha Franklin with “a symphonic soul, mellifluous pop melody, disco groove, rootsy and ecstatic gospel twist.” Every song that was performed flowed into one another, which was executed by the quick transition of instruments and rhythms of the incoming song.

The continuous flow of the set list had audience members moving along and taking in the moment. The show ended with the entire audience up on their feet and dancing to the encore, cheering and celebrating Yola.

“I also hope at the end of the concert they feel absolutely elated and energized by the talent and the message and the sense of experiencing Yola here with the Boone community.” said Allison West, director of marketing and public relations for the Schaefer Center.

Yola received two standing ovations from the audience, mixed with newcomers and fans, which was filled with dancing, singing and excitement to end the night off.

Country-Soul, Pop-Funk and R&B Rising Star Yola Comes to Boone on Her “Stand for Myself” Tour

The six-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter kicks off The Schaefer Center Presents fall season on Friday, Sept. 16

BOONE, NC — The Schaefer Center Presents (SCP) series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, opens its 2022-23 season with six-time Grammy Award nominee Yola to Boone on Friday, Sept. 16 at 7pm. The genre-fluid singer-songwriter stops at App State on tour to celebrate her critically acclaimed 2021 sophomore release, Stand for MyselfThe New York Timessaid, “Stand for Myself draws from the same Americana soundbook as Yola’s first record [Walk Through Fire], but it’s also shot through with disco and pop,” and NPR’s All Songs Considered anointed the album “the best soul record of the last 20 years.” Yola is a 2022 four-time Grammy Award nominee for Best New Artist, Best American Roots Song, Best American Roots Performance, and Best Americana Album. For tickets and more information, visit TheSchaeferCenter.org or contact the Box Office at 828.262.4046.

Occupying the intersection between country music’s roots and Americana’s hybrid of pop, folk and soul, the British superstar is at the forefront of a generation of Black female artists — including Allison Russell and Joy Oladukun — who are helping evolve Nashville, country music and American society. In a February 2022 article in The Tennessean about her tour’s kickoff at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Yola said, “I’m making the statement now for women in music broadly, and women of color in music specifically, that you don’t have to be in service to someone else’s art or vision of yourself to be worthy of appreciation.”

Everything about Stand for Myself — musically, lyrically, spiritually — explores the epiphany that making decisive choices leads to freedom. The album seamless blends disco, funk, rock and country into a fluidity of sound that defies categorization, weaving elements of symphonic soul, mellifluous pop melodies, disco grooves, rootsy rawness, and ecstatic gospel power into a package that is as eclectic as it is groundbreaking.

“The album is like a window into my mind, my life experiences, my politics, my hopeful and sentimental sides, and my hope for humanity at large,” she says of the 12-track collection. At her most melodically and lyrically free, it is an album of both artistic freedom and subtle social commentary that Yola hopes will connect personally with anyone who has experienced being made to feel “other.”

Yola, who appeared on the big screen this past summer as Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis, makes exciting new vocal choices on Stand for Myself. While her gale force power remains undiminished, she probes the layers of both higher and lower registers, exploring new textures on songs like the transporting title track, the addictive “If I Had to Do It All Again,” and the slow-burning “Great Divide,” which deftly balances grit and light.

Lyrically, she explores the difference between surviving and thriving (the languid R&B soul-searcher “Barely Alive”); inventively imagines new outcomes grappling with mortality (the inventive “Break the Bough”); frolics in the intersection of sentimentality and sexuality (the deeply sensual “Starlight”); recognizes the value of allyship (“Be My Friend,” featuring vocal contributions from Brandi Carlile); and takes control of her own destiny on the anthemic title track. In examining and embracing the various elements of her identity: black, female, empathic, creative, erotic, bawdy, sophisticated, curious, intelligent, and more, Yola takes listeners on a journey to self-actualization that they might not even realize they’ve been on until the album ends.

On the title track, she urges the listener to stand for themselves and those around them by challenging biases that fuel bigotry, inequality and tokenism which have deeply impacted her personal life and professional career. “It is about how people continue to bury their heads in the sand to hide from inconvenient truths that create a profound need to change how they think,” she says.

Yola was able to record Stand for Myself as the person she has known herself to be for years. She wanted to show her vulnerability, her hope, her intricacies, and to ultimately uncover all of those things for the listener.

“I want people to feel like they know a dark-skinned black woman a little better,” she says. “I could be the first, and all with an English accent and a chocolate-bar skin tone. I will be an example of nuance that one can reference that someone might not have had, because the media does not want to portray us in a way that is nuanced.”

If, she says, the first record was about introducing a person who, at a low point, recognized the need to ask for help, this second one illuminates that “I’ve been proven through this fire and I’m back to where I started, the real me. I kind of got talked out of being me and now I’m here. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life.”

Buy Tickets:
$35 Adults, $30 App State University Faculty/Staff, $20 Students

Tickets are available to purchase at theschaefercenter.org, in person at the Schaefer Center box office (733 Rivers Street), or by calling 828-262-4046.


Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
An Appalachian Summer Festival
Appalachian State University
PO Box 32045
Boone, NC  28608-2045

For more information contact: Allison West, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, 828-262-6084, ext. 107 or westal1@appstate.edu.

For event details, visit theschaefercenter.org.

Country Music Royalty Rosanne Cash Plays Boone’s Schaefer Center on April 9

March 25, 2022 – Boone, NC

BOONE, NC — The Schaefer Center Presents series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, welcomes award-winning singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash to Boone on Saturday, April 9 at 7pm. The iconic Americana artist will close out the 2021-22 season with a concert spanning new songs (“Crawl into the Promised Land”), revered classics (“Seven Year Ache”) and all the memories in between. For tickets and more information, visit TheSchaeferCenter.org or contact the Box Office at 828.262.4046.

Cash, a prized member of country music royalty, has released 15 albums of extraordinary songs that have earned four Grammy Awards and 12 nominations, as well as 21 Top 40 hits, including 11 chart-topping singles. Her acclaimed 2018 release, She Remembers Everything, a poetic, lush, and soulful collection of songs, marked a return to more personal songwriting after a trio of albums that explored her southern roots and family heritage — including 2014’s triple Grammy-winning masterpiece, The River & the Thread, and 2009’s The List (a list of songs given to her by her famous father, Johnny). Her 2020 single, “Crawl into the Promised Land,” was penned as a scathing yet hopeful ode to the resilience of the human spirit amid all the emotions of that unprecedented year. She has most recently written lyrics for an upcoming stage musical inspired by the 1979 film Norma Rae with husband and composer John Leventhal and book-writer John Weidman.

Initially created to promote She Remembers Everything, Cash’s current tour was among the slew of live events shuttered in early 2020. It resumed late last year, albeit in an environment that both artists and audiences are still getting used to. Cash is reflective post-pandemic. Following a performance at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in New Jersey in November 2011, she acknowledged that while shows have not sold out, her “motto is we play for those who come, not for those who didn’t come.”

Adding to an already exemplary resume, Cash is the author of four books, including the best-selling memoir Composed, which the Chicago Tribune called “one of the best accounts of an American life you’ll likely ever read.” Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Oxford American, The Nation, and many more print and online publications. Bird on a Blade combines images by acclaimed artist Dan Rizzie with strands of lyrics from a variety of Cash’s songs.

Cash was awarded the SAG/AFTRA Lifetime Achievement Award for Sound Recordings in 2012 and received the 2014 Smithsonian Ingenuity Award in the Performing Arts. She was a Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist in the 2015–2016 season and also served as a 2015 artist-in-residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. That same year, she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2017–2018, she was a resident artistic director at SFJAZZ. Last year, Cash was awarded with the “Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award by the Americana Music Association and received an honorary doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music. She also became the 61st Edward MacDowell Medal recipient, awarded since 1960 to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to American culture. The first woman to win the medal in composition, working in Americana, rock, blues, folk, and pop, she joins a revered group of recipients who include Thornton Wilder (1960), Georgia O’Keeffe (1972), Toni Morrison (2016), and composers Aaron Copland (1961) and Stephen Sondheim (2013).

Buy Tickets
$40 Adults, $35 App State University Faculty/Staff, $25 Students.
Tickets are available to purchase at theschaefercenter.org, in person at the Schaefer Center box office (733 Rivers Street), or by calling 828-262-4046.

About “The Schaefer Center Presents”
“The Schaefer Center Presents” is a series offering campus and community audiences a diverse array of music, dance and theatre programming designed to enrich the cultural landscape of the Appalachian State University campus and surrounding area. By creating memorable performance experiences and related educational and outreach activities, the series promotes the power and excitement of the live performance experience; provides a “window on the world” through the artistry of nationally and internationally renowned artists; and showcases some of the finest artists of our nation and our region. Musical events range from symphony orchestra and chamber music performances to jazz, folk, traditional, international, and popular artists. Theatre productions run the gamut from serious drama to musical comedy. Dance performances offer an equally wide array of styles, from ballet to modern dance to international companies representing cultural traditions from around the world. For more information, visit http://theschaefercenter.org.

Thank You to Our Schaefer Center Presents Sponsors
Boone Tourism Development Authority, Allen Wealth Management, The Horton Hotel, Holiday Inn Express, Our State Magazine, High Country Radio, WDAV 89.9 FM, WFDD 88.5FM, WETS, WKSK The Farm, and WASU 90.5FM

CVNC Review: Contra-Tiempo—JoyUS JustUS

CONTRA-TIEMPO Brings Joy to a Young Audience With JoyUS JustUS

February 23, 2022 – Boone, NC

CONTRA-TIEMPO, a highly acclaimed Los Angeles-based dance theatre group, has performed throughout the U.S. and the Americas. Artistic director, dancer, and choreographer Ana Maria Alvarez and her group have been compared to Alvin Ailey – high praise indeed. But Contra-Tiempo goes further. In the 2018 evening-length composition JoyUS JustUS, Alvarez (a.k.a. Mama Activist) and her dancers shout to the world that “joy is the ultimate expression of resistance.” I had the good fortune to view several excerpts of JoyUSJustUS featured in a recorded program for on-demand streaming for kids. The work was performed through the Schaefer Center‘s APPlause! K-12 Performing Arts Series on the campus of Appalachian State University.

Alvarez has an impressive CV, including grants, fellowships and artistic residences for her work. She was named a Doris Duke Artist in 2020 and awarded an inaugural Dance/USA Artist Fellowship, among other accolades. Alvarez holds an MFA in choreography from UCLA and a BA from Oberlin College. What I find so remarkable is her ability to collaborate and connect with fellow dancers, musicians, and storytellers. Through this collective, she reaches out to the wider community.

This sixty-minute program retells stories of community members through dance. People who have been mistakenly referred to through the lens of “deficit-base” narratives come alive as artists, activists, and teachers. The dances, spoken word, music, percussion, and costumes jolted me into submission – to watch, clap and enjoy. Oh, and yes, to dance.

There are three excerpts from the dances that tell stories. The first, “Joy,” began with a soloist on the beach. Dressed in blue and white, she invited us into her space with open arms she arrived free and ready to begin a new story. Her muscles were strong, her face was fierce, her feet were swift, and her body was fluid. The simple drumming and humming kept her in center stage. A small fishing boat passed in the background as her undulating figure captured my imagination. Children who have visited North Carolina’s beaches will identify with this scene.

The dances evoked joy; including the second excerpt where individuals were captured through 21st-century digital magic. Salsa, hip-hop, and free-forms melded into dances originating from neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The videos enlightened me that dance takes place wherever there is a bit of space, even a small living room. Bare feet, sneakers, dance shoes – they all work. But dance can reflect deep sadness, regret, fortitude, and strength. The third excerpt included a “Black Lives Matter” sign, stories of personal hardship, loss, and family.

The last section began with a rhythm lesson using claves. These beautiful, resonant sticks commonly used in Afro-Cuban music are a favorite among drummers. CONTRA-TIEMPO taught a basic four-beat rhythm to clap in call and-response with the final dance.

Finally, children were invited to a “Call to Action” through rhythmically spoken word. The Study Guide for this event is well crafted and adaptable for K-12 students; it is also a snapshot of meaningful curriculum design for the arts. What better way to share their work than by teaching a rising generation of community leaders? Bravo!

I left my computer happier and more determined to use my voice as a writer. We are fortunate to be a nation of immigrants, and as long as we welcome our new neighbors with open arms, we are better for it.

When you are able, catch a performance of CONTRA-TIEMPO’s JoyUS JustUS. In the full-length version the audience will see costumes by Charlese AntoinetteEmily Orling‘s altar quilts, lighting by Tuce Yasak, music by d. Sabela grimes and Las Cafeteras, and more dancers who collaborated with Alvarez.

This program presented by the Schaefer Center is available until March 23. The performance is free, but registration is required here.