HEAR THE SOUND
Bring all ears to Charles Pettee! This multi-talented musician employs banjo, harmonica, guitar,
mandolin, voice to introduce audiences to the wonderful tapestry of sounds that make up the
music of the Carolinas: music of the Pilgrims, native Americans, African-Americans, Piedmont
Blues, Gospel and Bluegrass. Mr. Pettee offers interactive programs for all ages pre-K-12!
Employing banjo, harmonica, guitar, mandolin, voice, and a variety of
hats, Mr. Pettee introduces kids and teachers alike to the wonderful tapestry of sounds that
make up the music of the Carolinas, including the music of the Pilgrims, native Americans,
African-Americans, Piedmont Blues, Gospel and Bluegrass.
Catch the Bluegrass Bug!
Come one, come all, grades pre-k-2 are in for a treat when Mr. Charles takes the stage with his
guitar and brings the sounds of the North Carolina mountains to life in this fast-paced,
interactive journey into the many sounds of NC Bluegrass music! Clap along to “Old Joe
Clark” as Mr. Pettee stirs it up with his “tater-bug” (mandolin – 8 string instrument from Italy)!
Call and response singing is a blast with “Cluck Old Hen” featuring the harmonica, (the great
wind instrument from Germany)! Have more fun with animal sounds as Mr. Charles invites all
to join in on “Mole in the Ground,” to the sound of the 5 string banjo (from Africa). Try out a
new rhyme while singing “Ain’t No Bugs On Me!” or the “Lollipop Tree,” or any of a number
joyful traditional tunes that make NC Bluegrass catchy!
"Bluegrass Stomp" (grades 3-5) is a romp through the musical styles from around the world
that make up North Carolina Folk and Bluegrass music.. This informative and interactive show
combines Charles Pettee’s experience in over 5,500 performances from all over the US and
Europe, with his blazing skills on the mandolin, guitar, banjo and harmonica, to delight
students and teachers alike with a whirlwind review of musical styles from Africa to Europe to
our own back yards! Addressing both Music and Social Studies Essential Standards, Mr.
Pettee’s stories and anecdotes about the cultures and places of origin of the various instruments
he plays make an excellent complement to the study of NC history. Students will hear Irish
Jigs, Spanish Flamenco, Gospel, Southern Blues, as well as Bluegrass, as Pettee demonstrates
each instrument in turn. Call-response singing, clapping on beat, Q & A, and making up a
chorus are some of the many ways Mr. Pettee involves his audience in the show. The topics of
immigration, slavery, and the Civil War make up the some of the social factors behind the
amazing tapestry of music we call Bluegrass, and Charles Pettee weaves this information into
his presentation with grace and humor. All are invited to “own” a portion of this unique NC
style of music!
“What a wonderful way to experience the many cultural influences of our
(Norma McDonald, Principal, N. Duplin Elementary)
Bluegrass: North Carolina’s Global Music
“Bluegrass: North Carolina’s Global Music” (grades 6-12) picks up the international and
historical themes from Charles Pettee’s “Bluegrass Stomp” (grades 3-5) program, and expands
on these for middle and high school audiences. Singing and performing on guitar, mandolin,
banjo and harmonica, Mr. Pettee surveys the development of American folk music over time,
and shows how NC Bluegrass is a product of many cultures from many parts of the globe.
Pettee starts in the present, performing an up-tempo Appalachian fiddle tune, followed by a
contemporary vocal song in a Bluegrass style. He then takes his audience back into the late
1700s, when there was, basically, no distinct “American” music yet. Pettee performs a few
numbers from these earlier days, giving the audience a sense of the sounds of the times.
Continuing the musical timeline, students hear samples of “freedom songs” by enslaved
African-Americans (as wells as “Follow the Drinking Gourd” from the underground Railroad
movement), followed by some samples of music from the Civil War. With the abolition of
slavery, American music began to reflect more and more African influences. By the end of the
1800s, “Blues” tonalities, (Pettee calls these “African sounds” and demonstrates them for the
audience), became more and more prominent in southern folk music. This led to the creation of
the distinctly American music genre known as Blues, which, in turn gave rise in the 1900s to
Bluegrass, Jazz, Rock and Roll, and Hip-Hop. Pettee involves his audience for Q&A, and a bit
of singing, as he demonstrates the global connections of NC Bluegrass on the guitar, mandolin,
banjo, harmonica and voice. Everyone is invited to “own” a piece of our unique NC sound!
“Your presentation was one of the most instructional, entertaining and professional
performances we sponsored all year.”
(PTSA Cultural Enrichment Committee, East Chapel Hill
The Music of the Civil War Era
"The Music of the Civil War Era" (grades 8-12)- For students of US history, this program
brings the issues and struggles of the pre-Civil War and Civil War periods to life. With a
fascinating survey of the music of European-based folk songs, African slave music, American
minstrel show tunes, and a sampling of the music of the Civil War, Mr. Pettee convincingly
demonstrates that the musical similarities outweigh the differences between the warring
factions. In this way, he convincingly shows that this was indeed one nation at war with itself.
Digging for the Roots of Bluegrass Music
"Digging for the Roots of Bluegrass Music" (grades 2-6) 3-5 Day Residency Programs
Up to four live interactive classroom sessions per day, featuring singing and clapping. Students
experience a different “focus instrument,” up close, each day, (guitar, mandolin, banjo,
harmonica, voice), experiencing how the instrument works, and its place of origin. Students
learn the influences of many cultures on the evolution on southern US roots music. Mr. Pettee
leads students in composing their own folk song in the five day residency, if desired (see “5
Day residency plan” below). Option to offer all school assembly program(s) on the final day
will share some of the experience with the entire school, if desired.
Note: Group size for any of the programs
may be from 10 to 400. Artist travels with complete sound
system. Programs may be mixed and matched for residency
|Interested in booking Hear The Sound?
Information Sheets in .pdf format:
Connections with North Carolina Essential Standards
View Instructional Plan for Charles' 5 Day Residency Program for Fourth Grade
Read what one music teacher had to say about Charles Pettee's 5 day residency "Digging for the Roots of Bluegrass"
View Instructional Plan for Charles' 4 Day Residency Program for Second Grade
thru Grade 2
3 thru 5
6 and above - “Southern Bluegrass & Blues – Then & Now” (6-12)