RSVP: 5 with 5 of North Carolina’s finest

"pray with your feet movin' "

Singer-songwriter Jeanne Jolly rides the train at Pullen Park in Raleigh

North Carolina is full of fine folks doing worthy work. In
this series, we kick back for conversation with homegrown doers, makers,
shakers, and artisans.

If you don’t know Jeanne Jolly, listen up. You can hear the sense of place on Jolly’s sophomore outing, “A Place To Run,” both in her lyrics and the robust first-rate rhythms.

Take us through your musical timeline.

My musical history started before I could
talk. My parents tell me I would sing dddddahhhh into my rattle in the car to
Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Singing into a rattle progressed to a
hairbrush and then a microphone. I saw songwriters as people to look up to. I
graduated from Western Carolina and then went away for graduate school, which
led to my master’s in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music.
When I later went out to California I got a ukulele, took guitar lessons, and
reconnected to Americana. After my mother died, I wrote my way through my pain,
and the result was “Falling in Carolina.” On “A Place To Run,” I’m
really home, I’m free here, and my creativity has room to breathe.

What’s the most distinct thing about playing in
North Carolina?

Every region has a little N.C. in it.
People are always receptive—from Elizabeth City down to Wilmington
and over to Blowing Rock—people come to the shows and then they come back again
and bring two friends with them, it’s touching.

Is there a particular song or lyric that never
fails to move you?

The last verse of Leonard Cohen’s,
“Hallelujah,” though lately in my newlywed state I find myself digging Greg
Brown’s, “Hey Baby, Hey.”

How did where you are from shape the artist
you’ve become?

We went camping as kids to the beach
or the mountains, it fostered my love of nature. I write a lot on
porches or outside; there’s a lot of N.C. in my heart.

Tell us a song that causes you to turn it up,
roll the windows down, and sing at the top of your lungs?

That’s easy, The Allman Brothers’, “Blue Sky”