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South Carolina

South Carolina is noted for being the birthplace of beach music

State Spotlight

South Carolina

Became a state on..... May 23, 1788

Southern Genres..... Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Country, Spirituals, Blues, Funk, Southern Hip-Hop, Jazz, R&B, Southern Rock.

South Carolina is noted for being the birthplace of beach music, an offshoot of early R&B and rock 'n' roll that featured a shuffling beat which spawned the dance called The Shag. This Myrtle Beach-area dance is the official State Dance, although South Carolina has also contributed to two other famous dances, the Charleston in the 1920s, and the Big Apple in the 1930s. South Carolina became the first state to vote to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860

One of the 13 colonies

The Land of Charles

South Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. The state is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the south and west by Georgia across the Savannah River, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

South Carolina was the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation and the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on May 23, 1788. South Carolina became the first state to vote to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860. After the American Civil War, it was readmitted into the United States on June 25, 1868.

About 30 Native American Tribes lived in what is now South Carolina at the time the first Europeans arrived in the region. The most important were the Catawba (Siouan language), Cherokee (Iroquoian languages), and Yamasee (Muskhogean language). It is believed that the first humans settled in the current South Carolina about 15,000 years ago. However, the Topper Site has been tentatively dated to about 30,000 years ago.

The first European to land was Francisco Gordillo in 1521, from Spain. Five years later, in 1526, another Spaniard, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, founded the first European settlement in the territory that now constitutes the United States. This settlement was named San Miguel de Gualdape and was founded with 600 settlers, including African slaves, but was abandoned three months later. The region would later be claimed by both the Spanish and the French. The French made several attempts at colonization which failed because of the hostility of Indian tribes and a lack of provisions.

England claimed the current South Carolina at the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 1629, King Charles I gave the southern colonies to Robert Heath. This colony included the regions that now constitute North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Heath named this colony Carolana, a Latin word which means 'Land of Charles'.

Music of South Carolina

"State Song"

The state song of North Carolina is "The Old North State," adopted by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1927. The song's title refers to North Carolina's nickname, "old north state," which is one of many state emblems. Both the title and the lyrics about enduring the "scorner" and "witling" depict the struggle North Carolina endured in territory boundary disputes and a series of economic setbacks during its formative years. While the words, written by William Gaston, remained the same, the music evolved over the years with multiple renditions in existence. In 1926, Raleigh resident Mrs. E. E. Randolph arranged the music, incorporating the standardized tune by which the state song of North Carolina is known today.

Judge William Gaston, a plantation owner and member of the state supreme court, was residing in the city of Raleigh during the 1835 judicial session. Several women in the household sang a song they had learned while attending a concert of Swiss bell ringers. Judge Gaston, enchanted with the tune, composed the verses to "The Old North State" to accompany the music. The song caught the ears of North Carolinians several years later when when a choir of young ladies sang it during a presidential rally for William Henry Harrison. The lyrics to the state song of North Carolina display patriotic pride and a hint of the difficulty the state experienced after the wars with Great Britain and a severe decrease in population and prestige.

William Gaston, from whom is named the city of Gastonia and Gaston County, took pride in the state song of North Carolina. His song includes words of defending the state, despite setbacks and scorners, and sings of its great liberty and hospitality to sons and strangers alike. The lyrics also lend personal perspective from the writer as a supreme court judge, with Gaston's proclamations of North Carolina's "just rule" and "too true to herself to e'er to crouch to oppression." Unlike many other state songs that herald the natural resources and beauties of their states, "The Old North State" focuses on the graciousness and beauty of its people "where plenty and peace, love and joy smile before us."

In 1663, Charles II of England established a colony in the New World, named Carolina in honor of his father. By the early 1700s, dissent and rebellion over local politics caused the colony to fracture into two separate royal territories: North Carolina and South Carolina. North Carolina adopted the nickname "Old North State" to differentiate it from South Carolina. The early years were turbulent for the fledgling state. After the American War for Independence from Great Britain and with the expansion of the American west in the early 1800s, North Carolina endured a dwindling population and reputation as an impoverished state with little opportunity.

Beach Music

Beach music, also known as Carolina beach music, and to a lesser extent, Beach pop, is a regional genre which developed from various rock/R&B/pop music of the 1950s and 1960s. Beach music is most closely associated with the style of swing dance known as the shag, or the Carolina shag, which is also the official state dance of both North Carolina and South Carolina. Recordings with a 4/4 "blues shuffle" rhythmic structure and moderate-to-fast tempo are the most popular music for the shag, and the vast majority of the music in this genre fits that description.

Though primarily confined to a small regional fan base, in its early days what is now known as Carolina beach music was instrumental in bringing about wider acceptance of R&B music among the white population nationwide. Thus it was a contributory factor in both the birth of rock and roll and the later development of soul music as a sub-genre of R&B.

While the older styles of R&B have faded from popularity nationally, the Carolina shag has gained wide popularity in swing dance circles around the US. This has not generally led to increased appreciation for the music of the beach bands, however. Many of these new shag dance aficionados prefer the "R&B oldies" and/or shagging to currently popular tunes that happen to have the required beat. As more networking is being done on the Internet among shag deejays and beach music fans nationwide, however, there is a growing acceptance of the regional bands by the "new shaggers".


Origins: late 1940s

Historical accounts of beach music as it relates to the development of this dance are often conflicting, but most agree that the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is where the beach/shag phenomenon had its greatest impact among vacationing teenagers and college students. The early development started around 1946.

In the period from roughly the end of WWII through the mid-1950s, a great many white youth in the still-segregated South could not always hear the compelling music of primarily black popular recording artists in their home towns. At the time, much of these recordings were characterized as "race music", a term later replaced by "R&B" In some communities, this remained in effect even after racial integration was implemented in the region. However, young people flocked to the bars and pavilions of the Carolina beaches where the shag was gaining popularity, R&B along with jazz instrumentals by artists such as Earl Bostic ruled the jukeboxes, and the "beach clubs" where R&B artists performed live also thrived. Even though toward the end of the 1960s more and more such clubs with similar jukebox selections and live band performances opened in other locations than the beach resorts, the term "Beach Music" which began to emerge in the mid-1960s, keyed off of the memorable experiences of dancing the shag to this music at venues by the sea.

A major contributing influence upon this musical affinity beginning in the late 1940s was radio station WLAC in Nashville, Tennessee, which blanketed the Southeast with everything from R&B to blues and more. Stations with similar playlists began to emerge in the Carolinas and surrounding states throughout the late 1950s and the 1960s, increasing the popularity of the music across racial lines and contributing to the increasing popularity of the emerging new gospel-infused R&B sound, soul music.

Among the most popular and influential R&B artists who produced "beach records" in the 1950s and 1960s were the Dominoes, the Drifters, the Clovers, the Tams, the Tymes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Chairmen of the Board. Beginning in the 1960s, certain pop records that had the right tempo to do the shag to also came to be included as a part of the beach music genre. Among the best-known examples are "More Today Than Yesterday" by the Spiral Staircase, and "Build Me Up Buttercup" by British soul band the Foundations. While some of the "beach hits" by these artists appeared on the R&B and rock and roll charts nationally, a great many of them were "B-sides"—or even more obscure recordings that never charted at all. With this penchant for obscure R&B, especially from the 1960s, beach music has much in common with the northern soul phenomenon in the UK, and perhaps even more with the popcorn sound in Belgium.

Transition and renewal: mid-1960s to early 1970s

Another wave of artists, known today as the "beach bands" came into prominence in the mid-1960s to early 1970s, heavily influenced by the sound of Motown and the other prominent R&B labels of the day such as Atlantic Records, Stax, etc. These included the nationally-charting groups The Swingin' Medallions, The O'Kaysions and Bill Deal and the Rhondels. Many of the bands got their start backing the famous R&B/soul artists who played at The Myrtle Beach Pavilion, the Spanish Galleon, the Afterdeck, Fat Harold's and The Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, The Coachman and Four in Bennettsville, The Cellar in Charlotte, The Embers Club in Raleigh and Atlantic Beach, The Galaxy Club in Wilson, Williams Lake, Rogues Gallery and Peppermint Beach Club in Virginia Beach and other such venues. These venues also featured many of the popular regional bands such as the Embers, the Tassels, the Catalinas, Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts, the Jetty Jumpers and the Rivieras also became popular playing these venues. This wave of primarily white R&B artists was part of a strong but nationally short-lived musical trend known as blue-eyed soul.

Revival: 1980s

In the 1980s, beach music enjoyed a major revival in the Carolinas, thanks largely to the formation of a loose-knit organization known as The Society of Stranders (SOS). Originally intended as a relatively small social gathering of shag enthusiasts, "beach diggers" and former lifeguards meeting yearly in the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach, S.O.S. quickly grew to become a major Spring event.

At around the same time, a fanzine called It Will Stand (from the song of that name by The Showmen) began to delve into the history of beach music. Concurrent with the new enthusiasm for the shag, and an increased emphasis on the roots of the music came a period of revival for many of the beach bands that had come to prominence in the 1960s. In addition to these groups, younger artists began to emerge, either as members of established groups, or with groups of their own. Dedicated beach music charts began to appear, tracking the musical tastes of shaggers and other aficionados of the genre. The number of regional radio stations playing beach music began to increase substantially.

In 1981, Virginia entrepreneur John Aragona sponsored the first Beach Music Awards show at the Convention Center in Myrtle Beach. He would sponsor and produce two more TV Specials over the next several years. In the late 1980s interest in Beach Music was revived and expanded. On November 19, 1988, live from Reynolds Coliseum, on the campus of North Carolina State University, "The Third Annual Beach Music Awards" was videotaped by Creative Center, a Los Angeles-based TV production company. The Awards show featured 20 of Beach music's stars and groups, ten Los Angeles based dancers, 20 professional shag dancers, and a twenty-piece back-up band, performing 50 of beach music hits.

The 3rd Annual Beach Music Awards TV Special was produced by Ron Dunn and Susan B. Donovan. Ron Dunn, DGA, served as director and writer, along with Susan B. Donovan (choreographer), and the show's executive producer, John X. Aragona. One of the key factors was a new song by O.C. Smith, "Brenda", written and produced by Charles Wallert. "Brenda" was on the national Billboard charts for three months and became the number one beach music song for two years. "Brenda" was nominated for six Awards and won five at the Third Annual Beach Music Awards. The telecasts of the Beach Music Awards in the 1990s (the footage appears in TV shows currently being broadcast) brought new awareness to the wide appeal of this music. New songs that were also national hits became popular in the beach music markets. Aragona spent more than 30 years promoting beach music.

These shows set the stage for the CAMMY Awards show, first held at Salisbury, North Carolina in 1995. The shows soon moved to Charlotte and then to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where they are still an annual event under their new name, The Carolina Beach Music Awards (CBMA). The CAMMY (CBMA) show has turned into a five-day-long showcase and party for the fans and the bands, with shows all along the strip in NMB. It culminates in a show at the Alabama Theatre. Chuck Jackson and William Bell were the national stars featured in 2009, backed by the Craig Woolard Band and the Band of Oz respectively.

The best of beach music from the early decades, from both national and regional artists, is known today as "classic beach". However, there is more to beach music than just the oldies. New recordings in this style are being produced regularly as part of the regional music industry in the Southeastern United States. While the terms "beach music" and "Carolina beach music" are still used, the increasing popularity of the shag has led to it sometimes being identified as "shag music". Many websites have lately begun to refer to this music as "beach & shag".

Influences and related genres

In a related trend, since the year 2000, there has been a steady increase in the popularity of Southern Soul, led by such R&B labels as Ecko and Malaco. These labels feature both original and new artists of "the old school", and sometimes turn out recordings aimed specifically at the beach/shag market. An example of this is "I'm In A Beach Music Mood" by Rick Lawson. In addition, at least one dedicated Beach act, General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board, charted both nationally and internationally with their brand of Southern Soul - sometimes with songs that were not aimed specifically at the beach and shag market, such as "Three Women". In 1994. General Johnson released a beach music version of The Ramones' punk anthem "Rockaway Beach" as a duet with Joey Ramone as part of the collection "Godchildren of Soul." In its October 15, 2010 edition, the New York Times obituary for General Johnson referred to "beach music" as an "upbeat brand of rhythm and blues".

Jimmy Buffett cites beach music as a major influence. His CD Beach House On The Moon was intended as an homage to the genre. Though it featured The Tams, and for a while they toured with him as vocalists, the CD did not yield any tunes that were big hits with beach music fans. However, it may have been influential in popular country music. Since that release, there have been others by artists associated with Buffett that have had that "perfect shag beat" and a beach music feel to them. Some have become hits with shaggers, including "Drift Away" and "Follow Me" by Uncle Kracker, "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum, "Why Don't We Just Dance" by Josh Turner, "Some Beach" by Blake Shelton and "When The Sun Goes Down" by Kenny Chesney. Just as was the case with "Dancing, Shagging On The Boulevard" by Alabama in the 1990s, these country-flavored songs went over well on the dance floor regionally but did not please the more R&B oriented beach music fans. They did, however, impact the growing national shag dance scene to some degree.

National and international pop artists have also contributed to beach music in recent years. Among the most notable are Rod Stewart, Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, Bruno Mars, Meghan Trainor, and Justin Timberlake, all of whom have had records that performed well on the regional beach music charts.

In addition to these country and pop connections for the music, the pure R&B aspects of it have led to a kind of cultural cross-fertilization of beach and shag music with the northern soul scene in the UK and elsewhere. This has been due in large part to communication between DJs of the respective genres on the Internet. 'Fessa John Hook's Endless Summer Network, streamed on the Internet, has a weekly program featuring noted northern soul deejay Kev Roberts, and there are plans for its programming to also be carried on satellite radio in Europe.

Carolina beach music was featured on the soundtrack of Shag, a 1989 film starring Bridget Fonda and Phoebe Cates, filmed in part at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion and other Grand Strand locations. Though not a wholly accurate portrayal, with the actresses' uneven attempts at Upstate Carolina accents especially notable, many viewers consider it an agreeable and entertaining "coming of age" movie, with a good soundtrack and some excellent shagging. Not widely popular in its initial release, Shag has gone on to become something of a cult film. No doubt it has helped to foster and maintain some interest beyond the Carolinas for beach and shag music.

The novel Beach Music by South Carolina author Pat Conroy takes its title from this regional genre of music. The novel's protagonist, Jack McCall, seeks to get his daughter more in touch with her Southern roots. He does this by introducing her to the shag and to classic beach music. He describes The Drifters' immortal song, "Save the Last Dance For Me" in this way: "This is your Mama's and my favorite song. We fell in love dancing to it." and "Carolina beach music," her uncle Dupree tells her, "is the holiest sound on earth."

Notable bands and musicians

Perhaps the best known rock band to hail from South Carolina is Hootie & the Blowfish, but other groups such as The Marshall Tucker Band, The Swinging Medallions, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, and alternative metal band Crossfade also hail from the Palmetto State.

Jazz saxophonist Chris Potter from Columbia has released over 15 CDs as a leader and performed as a sideman on more than 150 other albums. He is the leader of the Chris Potter Underground and has regularly performed with many world-class jazz musicians including Dave Holland and Pat Metheny. In the December, 2014 issue of Down Beat magazine, which featured the results of the annual readers poll, Potter was named the number one tenor saxophonist in the world.

Other prominent musicians and singers born and/or raised in the state include James Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Chubby Checker, Eartha Kitt, Peabo Bryson, Arthur Smith, Cat Anderson, Tom Delaney, Freddie Green, Drink Small, Johnny Helms, Jabbo Smith, Bill Benford, Tommy Benford, Nick Ashford, Darius Rucker, Josh Turner, Bill Anderson, Edwin McCain, Duncan Sheik, Rob Thomas, John Phillips, Walter Hyatt, and David Ball.

The state's bluegrass scene has produced important bands such as The Hired Hands featuring pioneering 3-finger banjo player Dewitt "Snuffy" Jenkins and old time fiddler Homer "Pappy" Sherrill. Other notable groups are The Hinson Girls, featuring four sisters from Lancaster, and Palmetto Blue, featuring three South Carolina Folk Heritage Award Recipients: Chris Boutwell (2014), Ashley Carder (2012), and Larry Klein (2004), along with the Davis sisters Shellie and Anna, and banjoist Steve Willis. Bluesmen Pinkney "Pink" Anderson and Reverend Gary Davis were both from Laurens, S.C.

Crossfade's "Cold" was on the compilation Now That's What I Call Music! 17 (U.S. series) in 2004, and Trevor Hall's song "Brand New Day" was on Now That's What I Call Music! 40 (U.S. series) in 2011. The Beach music classic "Stay" by Maurice Williams was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. James Brown's soul and funk song "I Got You (I Feel Good)" was #3 on the Hot 100 in 1966, and #1 on the Rhythm and Blues Singles. Peabo Bryson's r&b song "A Whole New World" from Aladdin was #1 on the Hot 100 in 1993. Hootie & The Blowfish's roots rock song "Only Wanna Be With You" was #1 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart in 1995. Hootie's debut album "Cracked Rear View" was the best-selling album of 1995, the 7th best-selling album of the 90s, and is the 16th-best-selling album of all time. Toro y Moi, a popular electronic artist, and rapper Lil Ru are both from Columbia.

Urban centers in the state including Greenville, Clemson, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston are home to thriving southern rock and southern hip-hop scenes..