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Country Music Figures Donate Papers, Give Concert

Tuesday, February 27
2 - 3:15 p.m.
Hill Hall Auditorium
Free and open to the public
For information: Southern Folklife Collection at (919) 962-1345

George Hamilton IV and John D. Loudermilk - country music stars with North Carolina roots - will perform on campus in February to celebrate the donation of their personal papers to the Southern Folklife Collection in UNC's Wilson Library.

george hamilton iv

George Hamilton IV

The pair will give an afternoon concert in Hill Hall Auditorium on Tuesday, Feb. 27 from 2 to 3:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. In addition to the performance, there will be an informal question and answer session with University music professor and country music scholar Jocelyn Neal. The 275 undergraduates in Neal's introduction to country music class will participate. Hamilton, a longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry, and Loudermilk, an oft-covered songwriter, are one-time students of UNC and Campbell College, respectively. The two started their careers on the Chapel Hill-based Colonial Records label.

Both musicians, Neal said, were significant players in country music in the 1960s, a time when the direction the music would take was up in the air. Rock 'n' roll was relatively new, and traditions were changing - Hamilton and Loudermilk crossed genre boundaries to remain relevant.

The event, she said, will be a chance to not only hear some great music, but also to hear two prominent figures of country, rock and pop speak with candor about their work.

john d. loudermilk

John D. Loudermilk

Two of Hamilton's hits, "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" (1956) and "Abilene" (1963), accentuate a career that has included tours with Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Johnny Cash and is solidified by more than 40-years with Nashville's iconic Grand Ole Opry. Deemed the "International Ambassador of Country Music" for his contributions to the globalization of country music, Hamilton was the first to take the art form behind the Iron Curtain in 1974. He has also hosted multiple BBC television and radio series.

Loudermilk, who penned Hamilton's "A Rose and a Baby Ruth," "Abilene", and "Break My Mind," among others, has been an active writer and performer whose works span rock, rockabilly, blues, country, and pop. His songs for Paul Revere and the Raiders, Eddie Cochran, the Everly Brothers and himself ("Tobacco Road" being the most notable) cement his name in country and pop/rock music history. More recently, his songs have been recorded by current popular artists including Norah Jones and Jewel.

Steve Weiss, head of the Southern Folklife Collection, said the musicians' donations, which include concert memorabilia, sound and video recordings, news clippings and correspondence, are multi-faceted.

"Their personal papers richly document their careers as well as the change in country music during that time period," he said.

The gift will add to the Southern Folklife Collection, which documents all forms of southern musical and oral traditions. The papers, and especially the recordings, Neal said, are critical for future scholarship and research.

"Their oral histories and documentation of their careers is a treasure trove for anyone trying to explore the history or culture of this music," she said. "It's a way of opening a window into a history that might otherwise be lost." The new collections will be housed in the Wilson Library Manuscripts Department, where they will be available for use starting this fall.

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This page was last updated Wednesday, February 07, 2007.
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