Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts. Menconi's next book, "Oh, Didn't They Ramble: Rounder Records and the Transformation of American Roots Music," was published in the fall of 2023 by University of North Carolina Press. His podcast, Carolina Calling, explores the history of the Tar Heel State through music.



As always, the North Carolina Museum of Art’s 2024 lineup of outdoor concerts is heavy on star power. This year’s schedule includes almost three-dozen acts who have won a total of 55 Grammy Awards out of a staggering 207 nominations.

“The theme of our season is blank space and JOY, in all-caps,” says Moses T. Alexander Greene, the museum’s director of performing arts and film since the fall of 2020. “We want people to enjoy, connect with and engage with joy. So much is going on in the world today, so much loss and societal things. We want this season to reflect what brings people joy. We’re trying to curate experiences where people can feel that on their own terms.” 

The schedule this year covers a wide range of 20-plus styles including jazz, gospel, r&b, Americana, alternative rock, folk, salsa and children’s music. A few more shows are still to be announced, which will bring the lineup to a total of 17 concerts. This year’s schedule will also include a number of movie screenings focused on music, starting with “Purple Rain” accompanied by a dance-party deejay set, plus the usual showings of low-admission blockbuster movies.

[Related: The North Carolina Museum of Art is currently showing a special exhibition, To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art, in the museum's East Building through July 28.]

The museum’s 2024 outdoor concert count represents a healthy increase from recent years—up from 13 concerts last year and 11 in 2022—following the years when the pandemic shut everything down. For all the stylistic variety, jazz is the dominant genre with seven “Jazz at the NCMA” shows.

“The jazz series has become something that feels like a love letter I get to give to the city of Raleigh every year,” says Greene. “And it’s not even really from me. It came from going out into the park during the pandemic and asking people what they thought was missing. Jazz came from that.”

Indeed, more than half of the attendees at last year’s NCMA jazz shows were first-time ticket holders for any museum program.

“It was 51 percent, an amazing statistic,” says Greene. “It shows that we’ve answered a need that was there. We’re betting on what people say they want.”

 

2024 outdoor concerts at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Presented by First Citizen's Bank

 

2024 outdoor movies at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Presented by First Citizen's Bank

 

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