Music fans Raleigh around for blues festival

July 16, 2013 by  

Raleigh residents who enjoy history and music had a bit of both last Saturday, July 13, at the Jubilee Music Festival. The celebration took place at Stagville Plantation and comprised a great deal of music that was influenced by the culture of enslaved African Americans.

Stagville Planation is in northern Durham County and covers some 30,000 acres. The festival was built around another celebration known as Jonkannu. It was held at Christmas, and slaves would go from one house on the planation to another, singing, dancing, and playing drums. They continued to play until the houses’ occupants paid them to stop. According to Stephanie Hardy, the manager of a historic site located on the plantation, the Jonkannu celebration was one night in the year when slaves were able to enjoy their heritage and at the same time, feel they were equal to their masters.

The plantation is now a museum that shows what life was like for slaves in the 1800s and 1900s. The festival is held annually, and Hardy said part of its purpose is to increase people’s awareness of Stagville, as well as emphasizing a vital part of black history. This year, rain forced the festival to move indoors, but failed to dampen attendees’ spirits. Performances included blues, bluegrass, jazz, and traditional drumming from Ghana in West Africa. The drum circle was led by Ghana native Osei Appiagyei, who now lives in Durham.

Stagville officials could work with brochure printers to create a piece for next year, describing 2013’s success, and the history of the plantation and its slaves.