1439 Henderson Tanyard Rd., Pittsboro, NC info@shakorihills.org 919-542-1746

2020 Fall Festival Cancelled

The Fall 2020 Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All tickets purchased for the event, originally scheduled to host the Del McCoury Band, Rising Appalachia, Donna the Buffalo and many others October 8 through 11, 2020, will be honored at the next festival.

“Despite the beautiful summer weather, we encourage music lovers everywhere to wear masks and stay socially distant so we can enjoy the simple things in life again, like dancing with friends at Shakori Hills,” said Carol Woodell, Shakori Hills Community Arts Center board president.

The biannual festival, held every spring and fall, is the largest program for the non-profit Shakori Hills Community Arts Center. The Center provides low-cost to no-cost music, art, and sustainability education in the counties of Chatham, Orange, and Durham. 

Woodell continued, “We are putting the pieces together to host a virtual festival October 8 through 11. This will be a programmatic fundraiser for the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center. We are working on the details and will have a formal announcement of the schedule at a later date.”

Donations to Shakori Hills Community Arts Center can be made via PayPal on www.shakorihills.org or via the blue donate button on the SHCAC Facebook page.

Festival questions can be submitted to shakorihills@grassrootsfest.org.

Message from the Board: Black Lives Matter

Photo by Matthew Way

The brutal murders of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor join a long and painful history of extrajudicial murders of Black people. A passionate national and international protest movement against the discriminatory and violent treatment of Black Americans has emerged. Now is the time to take a stance—silence is complicity. In the face of racial inequality and injustice, it can be seen, or worse felt, like collusion. Addressing issues of racial injustice and white supremacy brings discomfort. Such uneasiness is incomparable to the daily life experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Shakori Hills Community Arts Center understands the devastation that racism, inequality, and prejudices of any type brings about, so we want to be clear on the fact that we believe that Black Lives Matter. In light of recent events we have been reflecting on the role that Shakori Hills, an organization we founded together as a community, can play in this fight, and have come to recognize that we, like so many other organizations, should be doing more to support the Black community and as well as all other racial and cultural minorities, the LGBTQ community, Senior Citizens, Military Veterans, the Learning Disabled, Hearing and Visually Impaired, and all other individuals that are consistently marginalized.

At Shakori Hills we work to bring people together. We work to meet on a common and just ground—share, celebrate, and appreciate our differences. But we recognize that is not enough. As board members, we recognize that seven of nine of us are white, and with that comes white privilege.

As a board, we will not tolerate racism and commit to actively working against racism and for justice, we understand this is a lifelong, organization-long commitment. We will move forward with a commitment by vowing to do better. The country’s racial inequality has been made somberly clear. As an organization with a unique voice and broad audience, we are utilizing our platform to take a stand. Black Lives Matter and doing what is right matters. We are committed to fighting for justice, and for speaking up. We are committed to listening, listening some more, learning, and understanding.

We have revised our mission statement (additions underlined):

Shakori Hills Community Arts Center’s mission is to provide diverse, culturally significant arts, music and sustainability education and inclusive outreach to our local community and schools, while preserving the greenspace of its 72-acre Chatham County homestead.

This is just a start. We ask you, our community, to give us honest and open feedback of what we can do to better foster inclusivity, diversity, and social and racial justice.

Because knowledge is power, we recommend visiting the website of our friends at Abundance NC for a list of resources to help educate non-black individuals for what we know is right, as well as resources to support Black-owned businesses.

With gratitude,

Darrell Phillip Foushee, Board member

Charly Lowry, Board member

Andrew Branan, Board member

Carol Woodell, Board President

Clark Coppola, Board member

Jim Graves, Board Vice President

Jordan Puryear, Board member and co-founder of Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance

Lissa Farrell, Board Secretary and co-founder of Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance

Susan Reinecke, Board member

Spring Festival Cancelled

Spring 2020 Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival Cancelled

Dearest Friends,

The time has come to make a tough decision regarding the 18th Annual Spring Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance.

As you all know, Shakori Hills is a very special place that brings together music and dance fans twice a year to celebrate life and art. Therefore, you know how painful it is to announce the cancellation of the Spring 2020 festival due to the coronavirus.

Carol Woodell, board president of the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center (SHCAC), would like you to know, “In the interest of slowing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and with particular concern for the health of our festival family, the performers, staff, and our Chatham County community, it is with deep sadness that we are canceling our Spring festival,” said Carol Woodell, board president of the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center.

The SHCAC is also cancelling all other programs until further notice, including all Road to Shakori shows, the Junior Appalachian Musicians classes, and multiple voice and art classes.

Carol said, “We choose to be proactive, given Governor Cooper’s Executive Order and the CDC’s recent recommendation that large events and mass gatherings be cancelled or postponed for the next 8 weeks. While we very much hope life returns to normal by early May, we are mindful of the scientific consensus that unknowns lie ahead. We want to see all of our supporters back healthy and safe in October.”

As previously announced, no ticket refunds will be given, instead SHCAC is waiving the no transfer clause of the purchase agreement.

All tickets and camping passes will be transferred to the fall 2020 festival, happening October 8 – 10.

However, ticket holders who prefer their purchases to be transferred to the Spring 2021 festival (May 6 – 9, 2021) are asked to please complete the online form found on the Tickets page by 5:00 p.m. Friday, April 17, 2020.

Donations to help ensure the continuation of our non-profit festival, and the important mission of the SHCAC to provide music and arts education to underserved communities in the Piedmont, can be made via PayPal on www.shakorihills.org or via the blue donate button the SHCAC Facebook page.

Carol has also made a commitment to everyone who launches a Facebook fundraiser to benefit SHCAC: she will personally donate $25 to every SHCAC fundraiser launched on Facebook.

Festival questions can be submitted to shakorihills@grassrootsfest.org for the quickest response or by calling the office at (919) 542-8142.

Thank you for your understanding and support. We encourage you to stay in touch with us on social media and look forward to seeing you in the fall to celebrate!


Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival Staff

Looking Ahead

photo by Madelyn Matthews

Building a Folk Arts School at Shakori Hills and expanding our partnerships with local artists’ and crafters’ guilds is one of our great dreams for the future.

The arts of woodturning, weaving, carving, pottery, glass blowing, painting and many more sustainable craft forms thrive here already, so this is a natural step in our evolution. The goal in this dream is to provide a venue and forum to share local talent where others can learn, practice, and gain a skill to be passed down to future generations.

We also envision a covered performance space to allow for year-round programming. A venue that could showcase music talent as comfortably as weddings and community gatherings.

We will continue to offer art and music classes and work with the community to develop a vision for the Arts Center and the land.

Going forward, Shakori Hills only plans to grow and continue to have a positive impact through music and arts.

Your contributions will help us reach our vision of giving back to our community by making the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center a place for everyone to enjoy now and for decades to come! 

Click here to donate via PayPal.

What is a Didgeridoo?

The didgeridoo (/ˌdɪdʒəriːˈduː/) (also known as a didjeridu) is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of Northern Australia, potentially within the last 1,500 years, and still in widespread use today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or “drone pipe.” Musicologists classify it as a brass aerophone.

A modern didgeridoo is usually cylindrical or conical, and can measure anywhere from 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) long. Most are around 1.2 m (4 ft) long. Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower its pitch or key. However, flared instruments play a higher pitch than unflared instruments of the same length.


There are no reliable sources stating the didgeridoo’s exact age. Archaeological studies of rock art in Northern Australia suggest that the people of the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory have been using the didgeridoo for less than 1,000 years, based on the dating of paintings on cave walls and sheltersfrom this period.[2] A clear rock painting in Ginga Wardelirrhmeng, on the northern edge of the Arnhem Land plateau, from the freshwater period[3](that was begun 1500 years ago)[4] shows a didgeridoo player and two songmen participating in an Ubarr Ceremony.

Jeff Dotson & Francisco Plaza, Instructors

Jeff Dotson has a background not only in dome construction, but also in mountaineering, sailing, team development trainings, world travel, mainframe computer programing, and home construction.  Presently, his main skill areas revolve around raising a young daughter and son in a beautiful old Chatham forest.

Francisco Plaza is an artist with decades of experience working with bamboo. He has traveled the world and pursued hair-raising outdoor adventures including child rearing!

Fuz Sanderson, Instructor


Fuz Sanderson is an endangered species biologist,  Earthskills teacher, musician and storyteller. He has over 25 years experience as a wilderness instructor, naturalist, and research biologist for organizations such as 4H, National Wildlife Federation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, US Forest Service, US Park Service, and the Green River Preserve. Fuz coordinated the Earthskills Rendezvous for eight years, and is founder and coordinator of the Piedmont Earthskills Gathering in central North Carolina. He received a 2014 Environmental Leadership Award from Piedmont Wildlife Center.

Fuz has been featured on five professional CD recordings and has performed with the Grammy-nominated band “Sapien,” Rhythmicity, Brothers of the Sun, and Hawk Hurst. He plays Congas, Djembe, Didgeridoo, Native American Rivercane Flute and a host of other percussion instruments. He is currently serving the State of NC in the Biological Services Unit of the Department of Transportation. Fuz lives in Apex, NC with his wife, Sharlene, and their two boys, Caleb and Alden.

Cara O’Connell, Instructor

Cara has been whittling and working with wood for many years, having developed an carainterest in wood working when she was a child. She fondly remembers a “jolly old carpenter named Bobby Carpenter who wore overalls and played the fiddle” as her earliest influence.

Cara was the first woman to become a certified Journeyman Carpenter in Northern Virginia in the 1980’s. She started whittling spoons, animal shapes and canes while in Pennsylvania working with an Amish crew renovating an old farmhouse. After taking a class with Barron at the Piedmont Earth Skills Gathering at Shakori Hills last spring, she picked it back up and has turned her attention to Swedish carving techniques, learning from Peter Folnsbee. See samples of her work @Carabnr on Instagram.

Will Ridenour, Instructor

Will Ridenour is a musician from Greensboro, NC specializing in percussion styles from
willriddenouraround the world. Since 1994, Will has been teaching, performing, and studying in the United States, Mali, Senegal, and Sweden, and has appeared in 40 states and 28 countries worldwide. He has made four trips to study drumming in West Africa, and has been a guest musician with many West African Dance companies in North Carolina. Will currently performs with a variety of groups including Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, Paperhand Puppet Intervention, and SUAH African Dance Theater.

Marie Vanderbeck, Instructor

marietrioMarie Vanderbeck has been singing professionally for many years – Old Country, Blues, Rock, Jazz, Bluegrass, Appalachian – to name a few of her styles. Her voice is her instrument and she fine tunes it to be soft and sensuous or loud and sassy. Her love of music is contagious: she teaches both to learn and to have fun. Marie’s current professional endeavor is jazz band, The Marie Vanderbeck Trio.