Music is handmade in Caldwell County and is heartfelt from his native Brazil
By Michael M. Barrick
Note: This is an installment in a series of feature stories on the performers scheduled for the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase. Check back for additional stories through Sat., March 11 when the Showcase will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. The article introducing this year’s Showcase can be read here.
LENOIR, N.C. – Jimmie Griffith is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter living in Caldwell County. But as a Brazilian native whose vocals are in Portuguese and instrumentation heavily influenced by Bossa Nova, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis and other American jazz musicians, Griffith acknowledged that he’s not your typical performer one might expect to see in the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase.
Nevertheless, this year he will not only be performing; he also will be exemplifying the theme of this year’s Showcase – “Handmade and Heartfelt.” That is because Griffith’s music is made right here in Caldwell County; he has called this part of North Carolina home for nearly two decades. But his music is also heartfelt, heavily influenced by his upbringing in Brazil, where he lived the first 19 years of his life.
Griffith, who performs as MaisCeu, acknowledged, “I definitely fit into this year’s theme. I take it to heart, so I hope it will transfer to the audience.” He continued. “I grew up in a very rural area in Brazil in the mountains. North Carolina is a second home for me. Being in the mountains here helps me with my compositions. They’re written here. The root of inspiration is a crossover between my love for the mountains of Brazil and North Carolina.” Acknowledging that he sings in a language not very common in Caldwell County, he laughed but noted that his music “ … is very much about this place as well.”
In fact, he said audience feedback from the Showcase is something he seeks. “Since my music is not traditional, I just want people to come with an open mind. You don’t have to understand what someone is singing or the style of music to appreciate it. I welcome feedback. It adds to what I do. It keeps me going even though I’m not playing music common to the region.”
Griffith explained how that came to be. “My father is from North Carolina. He joined the Peace Corps after university and lived in South America. He met my mom. I was born and raised in Brazil.” He continued, “Dad loved music. My dad obviously had a passion for the music. He would play albums. So my music has some inspiration that came from the late 50s and 60s Bossa Nova crowd.” Bossa Nova, which places more emphasis on melody and less on percussion helps explain why Griffith says he is “most inspired by words and lyrics.”
Yet, his multi-instrumentation is essential to his creations. “My bread and butter is the guitar,” he shared. “I have other instruments I play on stage. I play flute, shaker, bells, percussion instruments, triangle. It just depends upon the song. Mainly guitar and vocals are present in all songs. I work to keep folks engaged with variety.”
Griffith concluded, “When I saw the lineup for the Showcase, I was excited about the quality of musicians. To be side by side with those folks is flattering.”
© The Lenoir Voice, 2017.
Showcase Date & Ticket Information
This year’s concert will include eight groups or individuals, including Strictly Clean and Decent. The total of musicians performing will be around two dozen, in addition to members of the Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music.
Strictly Clean and Decent, a 26-year partnership of Kay and Patrick Crouch and Ron Shuffler
Ridgeline: A bluegrass band featuring Jim Matheson on guitar, Mike Nelson on banjo, Tim Greene on mandolin and guitar, April Flanders on fiddle, Larry Wright on bass, and Jimmy Houston on guitar.
MaisCeu featuring multi-instrumentalist Jimmie Griffith performing Brazilian music.
Max Waters playing Southern gospel, jazz, and blues piano.
Strictly Strings performing old time and contemporary string band music. The band is Kathleen Burnett on fiddle and guitar, Anissa Burnett on bass and fiddle, Willow Dillon on banjo, fiddle, bass, and cello, Caleb Coatney on mandolin, banjo, and guitar, and Cecil Gurganus on guitar, fiddle, and bass.
Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music
Sycamore Bones with Cory Kinal, Andrew Massey, and Abigail Taylor performing original music.
Darren Bryant and Justin Clyde Williams performing country music.
Nancy Posey will be the emcee for the evening.
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