WRITTEN FOR INDY WEEK
On Tuesday, local grassroots streaming service Tracks Music Library released an intimate new concert and interview series, filmed in the stacks of Chapel Hill Public Library. The series, produced and hosted by hip hop artist Josh “Rowdy” Rowsey, features A.yoni Jeffries, XOXOK, and Austin Royale, all artists within the Tracks streaming services.
In a music world where conglomerate streaming services are swallowing the local music scene, Tracks Music Library, launched in the spring, has been offering new ways to find and discover local artists.
A collaborative project between the Chapel Hill Public Library and Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture, the local streaming service features music by local artists in the Triangle Area, each of whom are compensated for their submissions and given full ownership of their tracks.
According to Melissa Bartoletta, staff lead of Tracks in the Stacks and Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Town of Chapel Hill, the idea came from a desire to bring live music back to the community. The organization had set aside funds and resources for in-person events and concerts, and then rerouted that money in a few different ways: including launching their second collection back in January, and this concert series.
“Our mission and interest is always about sharing music with the community and also exposing the artists to new audiences,” Bartoletta says. “So we went through this process collaborating with Rowdy from the artists to the videographer.”
Each artist performed a set of three or four songs, many of which will be highlighted in Tracks Music Library’s next collection coming out in the next few weeks. From A.yoni Jeffries’ lyrical and soulful rhythm to XOXOK’s flowing, romantic sound to Austin Royale’s reveal of a completely new genre-shifting sound, the concert is as expansive as it is intimate.
“It was my first experience with a live music session since COVID,” Rowdy says. “It was really exciting to be in the room with that energy again, and to help put Chapel Hill on the trajectory of coming back into the world with live music.”
After their performances, each artist sat down with Rowdy for a chat to discuss their favorite books. The booklist highlights a variety of Black authors, musicians, and community members.
Rowdy then went on to discuss each artists’ perspective, background, and community engagement: A.yoni’s cannabis farm and background as a Jamaican and Native musician, XOXOK’s PhD—the kind of questions that may not seemingly relate to music, but help build a greater picture of each artist as contributors within the community.
Rowdy says he wanted to highlight how each of them are innovators not just in all aspects.
“I really wanted to kind of dig deep in showing our artists who they were musically but also show who they were kind of in the background—the versatility that we have with our music culture,” he says. “I’m just so proud of how it turned out.”
Looking forward, Tracks Music Library will be releasing their second collection in the next few weeks, featuring over 30 new bands from the Triangle Area. Bartoletta says listeners can expect a staggered approach of summer mixtapes each week, and a more intimate highlight of each artist throughout the next month.