‘More Chapel Hill love on the map’: New streaming service showcases local musicians

August 13, 2020

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Update: The free service can be accessed at tracksmusiclibrary.org.

As the Chapel Hill music scene is ever-expanding, Tracks Music Library now provides commercial-free access to highlight featured local artists for supporters who may feel overwhelmed by the variety of music around them.

Tracks is a new initiative created through a partnership with Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture and the Chapel Hill Public Library. The music featured is curated by people involved in the local music scene with the goal of highlighting music that is quality, diverse and has connections to Chapel Hill.

Kat Harding, who works at the North Carolina Museum of Art and is one of the curators for Tracks, said all genres of music are represented. Tracks features albums from over 70 musicians and bands.

“People think it’s a lot of acoustic, bluegrass and folk music,” Harding said. “It certainly is, but there’s definitely a lot more than that.”

Glenn Boothe, one of the select curators of the Tracks Music Library, has been involved in the local music scene since his UNC years of working at WXYC, and has been expanding his involvement ever since.

“The mission is to help filter some of the local music,” Boothe said. “It’s easy for me to say there’s so much great local music, but for the average person, where do you start?”

Boothe said Tracks helps provide that stepping stone for those looking to be more involved in the local music scene.

“One thing that makes the local music scene great is that it’s a real community,” Boothe said. “Both within the musicians and with the venues.”

Boothe said the curating process began with acts submitting their music to the Tracks organizers, who then sent a pool of artists to curators and asked them to listen and rate a certain percentage.

Keenan Jenkins, a Carrboro resident who has lived in the Triangle area since 2006, performs as XOXOK and is a featured artist on Tracks Music Library. Jenkins said the Triangle is where he really learned to be a musician.

After learning to play guitar in high school at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Jenkins then continued his studies at UNC, where he received a minor in music.

Jenkins said that while at first he played guitar alone, he didn’t know what he was missing out on until he started going out to shows and meeting other musicians

“That’s the beauty of being here in the Triangle,” Jenkins said. “There’s so many talented, kind and collaborative musicians in the area that just really made me fall in love with music and the Triangle music scene even more.”

Jenkins said the Chapel Hill music scene is special to him because of the community he found.

“In the past 12 years, I’ve slowly become a part of the music community, which is probably the best part about being a musician here,” Jenkins said.

Harding said she sees Tracks as a great resource to find new artists and highlight who is in the area.

“I love that it’s an easy spot to find a bunch of great local artists,” Harding said. “You can keep an eye out for their show posters soon when we go back to live shows.”

Harding said Tracks is also a good way to support the Chapel Hill community.

“I feel like Chapel Hill is probably the smallest city in the Triangle or smallest point of it,” Harding said. “Getting more Chapel Hill love on the map is always good.”

Harding said since all the featured artists have been chosen this year, curators now create playlists. Tracks will be curating and adding new music each year to change and expand their selection.

Jenkins said Tracks Music Library has provided support for local musicians during a time that is especially challenging for the arts community.

On Tracks Music Library, each artist has their own “Support this Artist” feature where users can donate directly to the musician.

“Even during a pandemic, Tracks has been trying to find ways for us to be creative and support us,” Jenkins said. “I think that’s above and beyond. That’s really awesome of them to do, so I’m really grateful to be a part of the Tracks Music Library.”

Since live performances are extremely limited due to COVID-19, there are other ways listeners can continue to support the local music scene. Jenkins recommended watching donation-based live streams to support artists during this time, if able. If you don’t have the funds to contribute financially, there are free ways to help, as well.

“Just following musicians on social media is really helpful to them and streaming their music on streaming services,” Jenkins said. “That doesn’t cost anything and is really helpful to a lot of local musicians during this time.”

Harding said that she thinks Tracks is a great opportunity for Chapel Hill residents to discover musicians in their own community.

“I encourage people to check it out, and get familiar with it,” Harding said. “You might discover your next favorite artist who lives down the road from you.”