Piedmont Blues

Piedmont Blues

From the early 1900s to today, a beat introduced by slave communities has become a thriving part of American culture: the Blues. Not just a southern pastime anymore, the Blues have migrated as far north as New York and as far west as Chicago. 



Piedmont Blues: North Carolina Style delves into Blues history and examines a Blues style that swept up and down the East Coast region of the United States and across eastern North Carolina, with its roots in Durham.

The Blues can be traced as far back as the pre-Civil War era, when slavery pervaded the South. Bringing their instruments and music from Africa, slaves formed communities through their singing and dancing together which created a sense of hopefulness. After Reconstruction, African-Americans migrated to different parts of the country, each modifying the music a little based on their experiences in each setting. Blues in the Mississippi Delta leaned towards the hopeless, while the urban up-beat style of the Chicago streets found its way into the music.

Many unknown and known songsters influenced the Piedmont Blues movement in Durham. Blind Blake, Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller and Sonny Terry were musicians who established the unique Piedmont Blues style. Fuller's hit "Step It Up and Go" turned Piedmont Blues from a local pleasure into a national thrill. Talented artists such as Brownie McGee, Guitar Gabriel, Big Boy Henry, Etta Baker, Algia Mae Hinton, John D. Holeman and George Higgs, to name a few, have kept the Piedmont style alive through current times.

Today, the Blues continues to thrive in North Carolina through efforts of aspiring musicians such as Ez Malone, Abe Reid and Daniel "Slick" Ballinger, and in Blues festivals throughout the state. At the Hayti Heritage Center located in Durham, youth attending the Hayti Heritage Summer Camp each summer learn the history of the Piedmont Blues and the legacy of the artists who shaped the music.

Piedmont Blues is a North Carolina style music that has continued to attract interest from the young and old, as it is passed down from one generation to another. Piedmont Blues: North Carolina Style provides a fresh perspective of how the Piedmont Blues has become one of the most popular musical styles in the Southeast.