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

Roots in the Schools


RootsintheSchoolsOne of our longest running and most successful programs — public schools in Chatham, Orange and Durham Counties have all benefited from the program in which artists, musicians, and20170323_142010 dancers are welcomed into a school to provide music education ranging from small class workshops to whole school concerts. At a time when music and art departments are being cut from schools, this program continues to fill an important need for our young community.

The program is supported and made possible by a grant from the Chatham Arts Council and the NC Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.

Below is a listing of some of the programs provided to area schools through Shakori Hills’ Roots in the Schools:

May, 2019

  • Diali Cissokho (of Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba) performed Thursday, May 2 at Silk Hope School and Siler City Elementary School. In two separate performances, 120 third graders at Siler City Elementary and 115 students at Silk Hope School learned about traditional East African lifestyles, languages and songs accompanied by the melodic instrument of kora. The experiences allowed these students to be fully immersed in the sounds of Senegal, and to learn more about cultures which may not otherwise be introduced to the classroom setting.
  • On May 2, Ellis Dyson and Danny Abrams (of Ellis Dyson and the Shambles) brought a combination of New Orlean’s style jazz and down-home bluegrass to Jordan-Matthews High School. These musicians played for 80 students, introducing students to a kind of music fusion that goes beyond the traditional sounds of Appalachia, as well as the music typically found in their music library.
  • On May 3, Root Shock performed at SAGE Academy for 50 high schoolers and their teachers during their lunch hours, putting the roots back into Roots in Schools. With their uplifting reggae sounds and tropical lyrics, it was the perfect introduction to summer for these lucky high schoolers.

March, 2018

  • East African musicians, dancers and historians came Siler City Elementary for a three-day residency to teach about the customs and traditions present in music from this region. The group was composed of director and musician Kinobe Herbert, and fifteen children from Uganda. The group provided classes surrounding East African lifestyles, languages, dance, and a variety of musical styles including Kalimba, Endongo and Kora. At the end of the week, these students shared their knowledge of history and showcased their singing, dancing and rhythm exercises for their peers and teachers.

March, 2017

  • Local old-time musicians and dancers took up a one-week residency in two 4th grade classes each afternoon at Virginia Cross Elementary School students in Siler City. Students broke into small groups of their choice in square dancing, rhythm, call-and-response, singing, and exploring the banjo’s African ancestor, the akonting. On the fourth and final afternoon, the classes delivered a performance to their peers demonstrating what they had learned. And yes, even the boys enjoyed square dancing!

October, 2016

  • Lobo Marino provided a school-wide concert to Pittsboro Elementary School, with 507 students joining in on the fun. Many of these students sang along with the experimental folk music, and came away with a new view on how folk music can be defined.
  • Richie & Rosie played to third grade students at Siler City Elementary School, servingr&r,ris 117 students. The duo, known for their incredible Americana music, brought in acoustic instruments to sing-a-long with students in the auditorium.
  • James Olin Oden delivered a performance of Irish-Celtic music to all the students at Margaret B. Pollard Middle School, serving 637 students. Known for his style which, “moves the heart and causes the foot to stomp,” students were dancing and singing along to the sounds of traditional Celtic music, and getting a lesson or two in the customs of the Irish as well.

May, 2016

  • Richie Stearns performed with his banjo at Sage Academy in Siler City on Friday, May 6. With his renowned, “mantra-groove spooky-banjo style,” Stearns brought a very new kind of music to local students, and showed that the realms of banjo music can extend far past the front-porch rockin’ sounds of bluegrass.
  • Nery Aravelo and Friends taught “Percussion Around the World” at The Expedition School in Hillsborough on Friday, May 6th. Students were invited to play many different drums, and learn more about the cultural significance of rhythm for countries all around the world. For these students, it was a trip around the world in 80 minutes, without ever leaving the classroom!

October, 2015

  • James Olin Oden performed at Pittsboro Elementary School, demonstrating different instruments found in traditional Celtic music. Students danced around the classroom, as the sounds of Ireland rang up to the rafters, bringing a different kind of sound to the classroom that afternoon.
  • Chris Luedecke (Old Man Luedecke) performed his own songs at Sage Academy. After his successful 2015 release of Domestic Eccentric, the Canadian-singer/songwriter had plenty of material to choose from. With songs like Easy Money and Dad Jokes, students were seen swaying to the music, and really resonating with his easy-going lyrics.

photo by Allison Springer

September, 2015

  • Cary Mokovitz and Adam Tanner of the Papa Charlie Jackson Tribute Project photo 1performed and lectured at Silk Hope Elementary School about the works and music of Papa Charlie Jackson, and his impact on modern-day jazz. Armed with a fiddle, a banjo and a guitar, students were immersed in the sounds of Americana, and were seen smiling and trying to sing-a-long.

April, 2015

  • Claire Byrne and Brian Volmer of Driftwood took a break from their never-ending tour schedule to play for students at Pittsboro Elementary School. Bringing some of their classic songs, and a few of the newer tunes off of their album, the band rocked out with the Americana/folk-rock group, as they created a refreshing afternoon before EOG season began.
  • Nery Arevelo led a percussion workshop at Perry Harrison Elementary. Students were invited to get their groove on, and beat along to the sound of their own drum – literally. The workshop showed a few basic techniques for playing, then let the students take reign and let the music in their hearts free for just a little while.

October, 2014

  • Local old-time musicians and dancers led an interactive workshop at Silk Hope Elementary School. Students were invited to learn how to two-step and swing like the pros, with a basic step workshop. Stumbling at first, the students quickly got the hang of it, and were actually excited to partner-dance, even the boys!
  • DSC_9605Joe Troop & Diego Sanchez, returned to their NC roots and took a break from their US-tour schedule to perform at Perry Harrison Elementary School. The Buenos-Aires based band brought a more Americana sound to students, bringing a banjo and a cello along to perform some of their original songs.

April, 2014

  •  Driftwood performed several of their oringal songs for students at  Carolina Friends School. Students were delighted and excited by the fun and fresh lyrics of songs like High School Paycheck and Rollercoaster. It was a real rock show in the middle of the school day, and the students could not have been more excited.
  • APPLES intern Melissa Swope offered a hands-on lesson in pottery at the Woods Charter School. Students were invited to get a little dirt – or clay in this case – on their hands, as they learned how to create their own pottery. Students also learned about the local roots of pottery, and the importance of that red NC clay!

October, 2013

  • DSC_4204Little Root played at Willow Oak Montessori School. The kid-friendly roots and Americana music was a refreshing break from the workday, as students sang along and played along to a little bit of local music.
  • DSC_3739Mipso (right) played at Chatham County JAM, bringing along guitars for some of the students to play along. The local bluegrass group played several of their award winning tracks, giving a lesson in bluegrass and in guitar along the way.

April, 2013

  • Dark Water Rising brought their rocky-soul style to students at New Hope Elementary. The group performed several of their original songs, inviting students to sing along, and get to know the sounds of North Carolina a little bit better.
  •  Oliver Mtukudzi & The Black Spirits dazzled folks at Jordan Matthews High School with their style of Afro Jazz. The Zimbabwean musician performed several of his renowned songs, and talked a little bit about his incredible career to an eager group of teachers and students.
  • DSC_0670Humble Tripe brought their unique style of Orchestral Folk to students at E.K. Powe Elementary. The musicians played several of their original songs, and amazed students with their incredible skills on the classical guitar and violin.
  • Ironing Board Sam entertained everyone at Hillsborough Elementary with his stunning prowess with his keyboard, which he prefers to call his “ironing board.” The Chapel Hill-based musician played several songs, and showed the kind of Blues mastery that comes with 50 years of practice.
  • Matt Heckler of Deep Chatham joined in on the Chatham County JAM this year, and showed just how good the music in Chatham County can really be. The group which specializes in driving rhythm and haunting melodies had students rocking along, and adding a new kind of sound to their iPod’s.

April, 2012

  • Charley Lowery conducted a Lumbee Indian workshop at JS Waters School, teaching students about customs of Native American’s through time, but especially in the 21st century.
  • Justin Johnson performed for Pittsboro Montessori School, bringing his slide-guitar along for the ride. Many of the students likely hadn’t seen a slide guitar before, and were excited to hear the sounds that it created, and to learn more about the instrument, and how it can create that unique blues sound.
  • Driftwood performed and conducted an instrument workshop at Grady A Brown Elementary in Hillsborough.
  • Bombadil performed for Chapel Hill High School. The American folk-pop band from Durham, North Carolina, brought their bubbly music to high schoolers, giving them an exciting and joyous reprieve on that spring afternoon.

October, 2011

  • Stuart McNair performed and conducted two workshops at Pittsboro Elementary School
  • Jeff Stickley and Andrew Marlin performed and conducted a Q & A session for the Chatham County JAM program. After an incredible performance, students were delighted to ask all of their burning questions of the bluegrass artists about the life of a musician.
  • Sidi Toure gave an unforgettable performance at E.K. Powe Elementary School. The Mali musician brought his acclaimed style of Songhaï blues to young students with a set of original songs. Most of the students had never heard the music of a Mali musician before, and were excited to learn about a different culture, and a new style of music.

April, 2011

  • Chapel Hill band Birds & Arrows performed at an Earth Day celebration and festival at Carolina Friends School. Their music is very inspired by nature and was a perfect way to communicate to young ears the beauty of the earth and of music.
  • Kooley High, a Raleigh hip-hop band with a positive mission played to high school students at Chapel Hill High. They played a lunch-time show outside for the whole school and introduced the fact that Hip Hop, as a genre, can have positive influence and inspire spoken word, poetry, and an outlet for communication.
  • Charly Lowery and Jonathan C. Ward conducted a Lumbee Indian workshop at Woods Charter School, which helped to educate students on the practices of Native Americans through time, but especially in the 21st century.
  • Stuart McNair performed and conducted a workshop at Pittsboro Montessori School
  • Umalali did a special program at Jordan Matthews High School

October, 2010

  • Charly Lowery and Jonathan C. Ward conducted a Lumbee Indian workshop at Siler City Elementary. Students learned more about the customs and beliefs of this local tribe, which combined history, and more modern practices of Native Americans in the 21st century.
  • Lizzy Ross Band performed at Woods Charter School, bringing their unique flavor of music to excited students. The band fuses together influences of indie, rock and soul to create a new kind of sound.

September, 2010

  • The Cane Creek Cloggers threw a foot-stomping hoe-down at Silk Hope Elementary School, with old-time stringband, The East Carolina Catbirds. The students were wriggling in their seats to fiddle tunes as they watched and learned about this style of Appalachian Dance, which is native to their own part of the country.

April, 2010

  • Hammer No More the Fingers performed an acoustic set at Woods Charter School, bringing a more toned-down version of their electric rock music to students.
  • The Steamrollers performed and conducted a Q & A Session at Siler City Elementary. Students were excited to be able to get to know the band a little better, and to ask questions ranging from their actual music, to what it’s actually like to be a musician.
  • Greg Humphreys performed and conducted two workshops at Pittsboro Elementary School.
  • The Beast gave an unforgettable performance at East Chapel Hill High School. The band electrified the room with their unique hip-hop and jazz music, a fusion which felt fresh and new to students.
  • Inflowential performed at Chapel Hill High School. The local hip-hop group got the groove going in the room, with their upbeat and exciting sound.

October, 2009

  • The Firehouse Rhythm Kings performed two workshops/shows at Pittsboro Elementary School. These workshops invited students to learn more about how to play percussive instruments, and how to rock out to their own kind of sound.
  • Midtown Dickens visited Woods Charter School to play several of their original songs. Students were once again amazed by the band’s ability to turn nearly any kind of object into an instrument to create a more exciting and robust sound.

April, 2009

  • Joe Troop visited JS Waters School. Joe blew away three of Valerie Jones’ 4th and 5th grade music classes with his bluegrass charm. He taught them about the roots of bluegrass, and gave demonstrations on instruments.
  • The girls of Midtown Dickens, along with their fellow musician friend Will, rocked the 4th grade class of Pittsboro Elementary School! The students were amazed by Catherine Edgerton and Kym Register’s ability to manipulate everyday objects (a chair, spoons, even a saw!) to create beautiful tunes!
  • Ari Picker of Lost in The Trees was in the second graduating class of Woods Charter School. On Thursday, April 9, he and several of his band mates participated in a homecoming of sorts. Armed with tales of their musical journeys, the ensemble spent close to an hour with a group of high school music students answering questions and demystifying the life of a working musician. This was followed by a performance for the entire school (grades k-12). Students and teachers alike not only enjoyed the music immensely, but many eyes were opened to the unlimited performance possibilities that many ‘non rock and roll’ instruments present.
  • Greg Humphreys visited the 3rd Grade music classes of the Central Park School for children in Durham. The kids loved the opportunity to enjoy and learn from this awesome guitar-playing member of the band Hobex!
  • Carolina Friends School hosted stephaniesid of Asheville, NC, for a lunchtime show that teachers and students alike were pleased to see stretch on into the next class period! High school, middle school, and lower school students were thrilled that the entire band was able to come rock out on their outdoor patio! A student of CFS and member of the Shakori band Old 86 even got up on stage and played with them…and played so well that the band invited him to play with them at the festival!

October, 2008

  • Chapel Hill-based Indie band, The Never, performed and conducted a Question & Answer Session at Woods Charter School. Students were delighted to get to know the band better, and to learn a little more about what it means to be a musician, and why local music is so important.

September, 2008

  • North Carolina old-time fiddle legend, Joe Thompson,the last living link to a time when African American String Bands played for square dances nearly every weekend around here, performed at Pittsboro Elementary School.

April, 2008

  • Shakori Hills had an Art Day on site with Paperhand Puppet Intervention. Students learned more about the art of creating the stunning and intricate kinds of puppets that have come to be known as the Paperhand Puppet Intervention’s specialty. Katy Shoemaker and her band brought a little bit of string-band music to the exciting day, and had students dancing along to the rhythm of the low bass strings. Later in the afternoon, Leif Diamont, a professor of ethnobotany at UNC and Duke led a nature walk, emphasizing the excitement and importance of nature. Overall, it was a successful day in the sun for Chatham County students, and one that they likely will not forget for a long time.
  • Charles Petee played at J.S. Waters School, teaching some of the students a little bit about playing bluegrass music. With a lifetime of flatpicking and folk-singing under his belt, Petee was more than ready to show students that the sounds of NC can be beautiful, intricate, and a heck of a lot of fun.
  • Michael Hurley played for Woods Charter Elementary students, playing some of his unique and beautiful folk songs for a class full of excited students. After his essential career in the ’60s and ’70s in Greenwich Village, Hurley was excited to have a young and eager crowd to play for on that spring afternoon. Students left with a deeper understanding of folk music, and Hurley left with a new and young fan base.

April, 2007

  • In this Hopes & Dreams pilot week, African visual artist Issa Nyaphaga welcomed students and teachers from Chatham Chater School and Carolina Friends School to Shakori Hills for a school field trip. He taught the students about his home in Cameroon, while they constructed a replica of a Cameroon village using natural and mostly recycled materials. Singer Amy Glicklich led the students in songs from around the world during the lunch break.