WFAE (Charlotte’s NPR News Source) is no stranger to highlighting the songs and stories of Charlotte’s diverse music scene. Since launching in 2018, WFAE’s Amplifier music podcast has won acclaim on the local and national stage for shaking the news doldrums and creating cultural connections. In the words of Joni Lupovitz (NPR Senior Director Public Policy), “Amplifier is a wonderful example of public radio connecting audiences, musicians, and community.”
Prior to the outbreak, Amplifier was known for encouraging new audiences to support (and see) local musicians. Charlotte singer-songwriter Dane Page credits Amplifier as being the single best exposure he’s received from local media. In his words, “Charlotte audiences want to know more than just ‘what’ is happening, they want to know ‘why’ they should care about a particular artist’s performance.” Amplifier was praised by Page (and the music community) in Charlotte Center City Partners’ 2019 Charlotte Music Study and Action Plan (conducted/organized by Sound Music Cities), describing Amplifier as “a trusted curator” that could help further elevate Charlotte music.
With the cancellation of major festivals and local music events, the mandated closure of entertainment spaces and the halting of public gatherings, the coronavirus (in addition to its health risks) has significantly impacted the arts and music in Charlotte.
Within hours of the state of North Carolina’s “stay-at-home” mandate going into effect (signaling the seemingly endless pause to live, local music), WFAE’s Joni Deutsch got to work on a new series of virtual performances/interviews called Songversations, which would allow artists to highlight their songs and stories as they rode out the high’s and low’s of quarantine. Revisiting music-makers who were previously interviewed on WFAE’s Amplifier “in the before times” of the pandemic, Songversations would create a platform for artists to share their artistic challenges and newfound opportunities during COVID-19, as well as create a virtual stage for audiences (near and far) to be able to discover a Charlotte artist, fall in love with a new song (perhaps inspired during quarantine), support local art and reconnect with humanity and the Charlotte community.