Anthony Hamilton’s Secret Hook

The shock waves of Carolina patriotism were still still being felt long after Petey Pablo’s “Raise Up” stubbornly evaporated from rotation in the early aughts. In 2004, Charlotte’s Crime Family penned their own anthem to the Old North State. Of the SEVEN individuals mentioned on this label, omitted is that of Queen City’s R&B King, Anthony Hamilton, whose breakthrough album Comin’ from Where I’m From had been released just months prior. Although nostalgic shouts to institutions like Bike Week and Myrtle Beach decorate this more-than-successful Carolina Rap relic, the Crime Family does a greater deal of block hugging and gangster posturing. Although I often question the authenticity (and more often the logic), of committing such court-admissible braggadocio to record, Charlotte’s Hidden Valley Kings, as revealed on that episode of Gangland (History Channel), practiced comparable caution. To aspiring drug dealers: If wire tapping devices start falling out of your customer’s pockets, be a little more skeptical of the “It’s radios and shit” explanation. However, to aspiring rappers: THIS is how you fit Michael Jordan, Julius Peppers, and Clay Aiken into one verse. Kudos. 

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“Carolina’s My Home” by the Crime Mob.

Stillman-Davis Misdiagnosed

As with most Tarheel records from the 1980s, this is largely unlistenable. The term “novelty” only begins to contextualize the piano boogers, cowbell abuse, Huey Lewis sax-foolery, and wet-noodle vocal posturing that mar this attractive picture disc. What is actually pretty cool is the Switched-On rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever.” That I can live with. Although College Town records maintained a post-office box in Durham (strike one), the Stillman-Davis Band also produced a picture disc for the Fighting Illii, leading one to believe that the the hyphenated duo didn’t have Tarheel-specific Fever after all. Regardless, they’d clearly come down with something. I guess that’s what you get for messing around in Durham. 

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‘Stars and Stripes Forever” by the Stillman-Davis Band

Hark the Sound of Tarheel Voices

Not to give anyone the impression that Carolina Soul has been bought out by ESPN, or, heaven forbid, Fox Sports South, but March Madness offers welcomed respite from all the other manners of madness that plague us April-February. I keep trying to tell my fellow Winston-Salemites/Tarheel brethren Stuart Scott and Hubert Davis—People don’t want all this sports gossip, off-court drama, and contract politics. They want iPhone photos and locker room improvisations. Props to Alan Lomax, the Mike Jordan of Field Recording. Props to the 2011 Carolina Tarheels Heels—Go wherever the winds of basketball greatness may take you. 

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Assorted Sounds by the UNC Men’s Basketball Team and Pep Band

Duke Scores! One Real Band

Nate Smith is a New York native and Duke University graduate student, who hosts Funk Disco Dance Fridays on WXDU 88.7-FM, Fridays from 6-8 pm.

This rich, White Yank was granted the olive branch of blog space on Carolina Soul to bring some real love to Duke University for their 2011 ACC Men’s Basketball Championship.  Coach K would not recruit Chuck D, but I feel like Radio Raheem right now: right hand, left hand, love and hate, Duke and Carolina… Left hand hate KO’d by love! I love you Carolina fans for being who you are and thinking what you think. But as my friend would say, Baby blue, Carolina is not populist! That’s State. Go cheer on that.
If you want to hear a band that flips preconceptions about Duke on its lid, look no further than the One Real Band. Duke’s Harlequins may be “Carolina Soul-lite,” but ORB has soul. Former Durham club operator Bro. Yusuf Salim (RIP) says ORB “offer a repertoire of great variety, guaranteed to move you no matter what your favorite style may be.” And these guys had style (@jalenrose, I am awaiting my Twitter apology). We’re talking jazz, funk, proto-rap, soul, and (regrettably) standards. A trio of brothers Kimbrough, Duke alum and harbinger of Plumlee, led the band, which crossed town-gown boundaries to fill out its seven-piece. Guest singer Fleecia Heath, in her first Google hit and only appearance on their sole 1981 LP It’s Nice To Know There’s Still ONE REAL BAND, offers the most fragile of modern soul vocals, telling her counterpart Nat Martin, “We come back once again to the place where we began—one time in hate, the next in love.” Carolina will have its turn back at the top again one day, but until then…

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“Here We Go” by One Real Band

Harlequins: Straight Baby Thighs

Since becoming obsessed with the Big Ghost Chronicles, written anonymously by a Ghostface Killah-channeling genius, it’s hard not to call the Harlequins “shampoo-blooded” or simply “mad soft, b.” None the less, the University of New Jersey at Durham deserves some manner of acknowledgement for knocking the Tarheels off in the ACC Tournament last Sunday. I would call the Harlequins a poor man’s Four Freshman, but Duke University threatened to take legal action if I associated them with poor people. What deserves mention more so than this loofah-centric vocal ensemble is the backing prowess of the Harrison Register Quintet, comprised of Jim Crawford (tenor), John Ziolkowski (trumpet), Bobby Boyd (bass), Frank Bennett (drums), and Register himself on guitar. Bennett stands for having led the accomplished Duke Ambassadors a decade or so after Creed Taylor himself played trumpet in the seminal student ensemble. “Following an introduction by the Harlequins, a latin [sic] beat is the setting for this composition by arranger Wayne Barber.” Although the Harlequins have some serious pipes, and the Quintet some serious chops, they’re more like diet Carolina Soul. Carolina Soul-lite, Nahmean? 

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“I’ve Never Felt This Way Before” by the Harlequins


The Carolina Soul website serves as a living encyclopedia of soul music made in North and South Carolina. We strive to share Carolinian songs and stories of the last half century, and we invite the input of musicians and fans. We hope you will contact us if you have information on bands or recordings from the region.