What chance does an artist have of making a living in North Carolina?
Langston Fuze records a new song. He’s released three
independent albums in North Carolina.
But he feels he’s had enough of NC.
(Photo courtesy of: Wayne Sutton/webmaster)
Raleigh-based poet, musician and founder of Tribe Mordecai Edutainment, Christopher Rowland, doesn’t see much of a
chance to be heard in North Carolina, unless you’re Maya Angelou of course.
North Carolina has had a history of overlooking talent. The North Carolina School of the Arts turned down Debbie Allen! Does North Carolina really know the arts? Rowland calls North Carolina a fad state.
With artists like Maya Angelou, Petey Pablo and Branford Marsalis calling North Carolina home, what seems to be the problem for artists in the Tar Heel State?
Rowland feels unless you’re already connected, don’t bother sticking around North Carolina!
He’s been up and down the East Coast and has found much more love elsewhere, just not in his own backyard.
He feels there are people here who are diligently trying to make strides in poetry and music, but doesn’t feel the support he feels he would receive in Atlanta, Philadelphia or New York.
The big name cities in the black literary scene like Atlanta and New York top Rowland’s list of places to move.
“I was told that you should live in New York for a year but get out before it changes you,” said Rowland.
“A writer is truly going to flourish where there is hopelessness, said Rowland, Because out of hopelessness comes hope.”
Rowland noted that a few of the talented names that have called North Carolina home included John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and even KC & JoJo. But he also mentioned that they had to leave North Carolina to get notable attention.
“A movement lies in its people, and the movement has never been in the people of North Carolina,” said Rowland. “That’s why you don’t have flourishing poetry venues or literary circles. There’s never been a desire for it. But, you go to thriving black communities and huge urban centers [and] they have open mics that they’ve been doing for 30 years, since the 70s.”
“You had the sit-ins, the talented tenth in Wilmington,”said Rowland. “Other than that there’s not much to speak on as far as people actively going against the grain.”
“We’re a laid back relaxed state,” said Rowland. “I want to travel around and see the world like Langston Hughes did.”
Rowland admired Langston Hughes and his travels so much that he chose a variation of the famous poet’s name, “Langston Fuze”as his own stage name.
“The reason why I cherish Langston Hughes is his spirit. He loved people. He loved people enough that he wanted to write about them,” said Rowland.
“The fuze means I regulate positive and negative energy through my writing.”
Rowland has carried the name the last five years.
The name has been with Rowland since the start of Tribe Mordecai Edutainment.
Edutainment was adapted from a term used by Hip-hop artist KRS One in the early 90’s. “Music should be able to entertain as well as educate,” said Rowland.
Rowland says it’s his effort to bring something positive to the world.
The company has released five independent albums in the last two years.
It’s also hosted the popular “Black Dart Chronicles” in Raleigh, a series of poetry readings focusing on culture.
“I feel black people know their history and their culture right now,” said Rowland. “It’s important for me in whatever I do to maintain my cultural integrity.”
Rowland isn’t sure when he’ll make his move to a more receptive and supportive city. He feels he needs to make a move soon.
“There is no industry here, so it’s really hard for people to really truly understand what you’re doing anyway,” said Rowland.