Renowned Grammy-nominated musician and ethnomusicologist Dr. Tim Eriksen will speak and perform in classes and other venues at East Carolina University during the week of Feb. 19-23. During the week, Eriksen will lead a film-screening and discussion, present an academic talk and perform a musical concert that are free and open to the public.
“Eriksen is acclaimed for transforming American tradition with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia,” his online biography reads. “He combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexton – a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass – creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 7-8 p.m. in the Science and Technology building, room C-307, Eriksen will screen and discuss two films about the venerable sacred music tradition of shape-note singing, a unique and haunting genre of sacred music that reflects the complexities of identity in the multi-cultural history of the United States.
First, he will show Landon McCrary’s1979 independent film “Dewey Williams, 81st Birthday Singing,” about black shape-note singers in Alabama, followed by an excerpt from Matt and Erica Hinton’s film, “Awake My Soul,” about their white counterparts.
After the screenings, Eriksen will discuss the history and contemporary practice of shape-note singing and what it has to say about religion, civil rights and racial identity in American history and the present day. Also, he may perform a little singing of his own for the audience.
On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Eriksen will lead a lunchtime academic talk on “Old Folks Singing in Utopia: How Antebellum Musical Antiquarianism and Calvinist Eschatology Gave Birth to Science Fiction on the Banks of the Connecticut River.” The discussion will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bate building, room 1006.
On Thursday, Feb. 22, the public has the opportunity to hear Eriksen perform live. A concert of “Hardcore Americana: Secular and Sacred Songs,” will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Science and Technology building, room C-307.
Eriksen received his doctoral degree in enthomusicology from Wesleyan University. He specializes in shape-note music – specifically the sacred harp – “Old Time” music, American folk, Bosnian vocal and Indian classical music. He has performed and consulted on the soundtrack for the film, “Cold Mountain,” and he has released numerous recordings in genres from folk to jazz to punk.
The events are co-sponsored by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities and Harriot College’s Religious Studies Program. All are free and open to the public. No tickets are required.
For more information about Eriksen, visit timeriksenmusic.com/. For questions about Eriksen’s visit to ECU, contact Dr. Joseph Hellweg, Whichard Distinguished Professor, at email@example.com.
-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications