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Historic plantation memories honor African American culture with Jubilee Music

The Branchettes (Ethel Eliot and Lena Mae Perry) at the Jubilee Music Festival
The Branchettes (Ethel Eliot and Lena Mae Perry) at the Jubilee Music Festival
Historic Stagville

The Historic Stagville property in Durham, “is the remnant of one of the largest plantation of the pre-Civil War South and belonged to the Bennehan-Cameron family,” according to the history on their website. (The Bennehan house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.) By 1860, The Bennehan-Cameron family is documented to own approximately 900 slaves on 30,000 acres of land. With that stated, it is obvious there are chapters of historical events and intricate and emotional family stories of the lives the slaves and owners. Some may be written and others, just verbally past down to generations.

Historic plantation memories honor African American culture with Jubilee Music Festival
Historic Stagville

Those days are gone but the Historic Stagville entity honors and celebrates the African American influence, contributions and history with their annual Jubilee Music Festival on Saturday, July 19. The festival highlights the musical gifts of African American cultures with live performances that include music genres of blues, gospel, and jazz with artists such as Boo Hanks, The Branchettes and Lakota John.

Jubilee Music Festival line-up from program highlights:
Saturday, July 19, 2014 12 PM-4:30 PM
12PM-1:15PM The Branchettes
"The Branchettes of Johnston County, North Carolina (Ethel Eliot and Lena Mae Perry) have been performing hymns and gospel songs together for well over twenty years. Their style and repertory have their roots in the older African American musical traditions of congregational hymn singing."

1:30PM-2:45PM Lakota John and Kin
"John Lakota Locklear, one of Music Maker’s Next Generation Artists, was born in 1997 in Pembroke, North Carolina. A Native American (Lumbee), Lakota John was seven years old when he started playing harmonica and nine years old when he picked up his first guitar. He was intrigued by the sound of the slide guitar and wanted to learn to play. About a year and a half later, he bought himself a glass slide, placed it on his pinky finger and has been sliding ever since."

3:00PM-4:15PM Boo Hanks
"Boo Hanks, a descendant of Abraham Lincoln on his mother’s side, sings and plays guitar in the style of the legendary Blind Boy Fuller. At the age of 79, he made his first recording, and at 82, he has enjoyed performances around home as well as Lincoln Center and Belgium."

The Bahama Volunteer Fire Department will be selling hot dogs and burgers. In case of rain, the performances will take place in the visitor center. Admission is free.

The open green space is perfect for blankets and chairs to experience the positive reflections of musical contributions past down throughout history. The inspirations for music compositions, genres, lyrics, and productions may be the triggers from the historical experiences of their lives. However, the music can be a gentler way to remember the suffering and conflicts that many people and cultures endured to fight for their freedom and dignity. With music and like the historical words in stories, the musical notes can be simple or complex combinations of scores written for symphonies to tell amazing and poignant stories. These stories can revive empathy and compassion to learn and to become better people than “yesterday” and help preserve man’s humanity. All this from music? Just listen.

For more information contact Historic Stagville at 919-620-0120. The historic site is located at 5828 Old Oxford Hwy Durham, NC, 27712. For more information and other events please visit

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