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Hal Kemp - Chapel Hill's First Music Superstar

by Charly Mann

Before there were Arrogance, Mike Cross, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, James Taylor, George Hamilton IV, or Kay Kyser, one man put the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill on the music map. His name was Hal Kemp, and he was as well known in the 1930's as Madonna, the Eagles, or the Dave Matthews band are today.

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Comments:

Bebe Johns Fox      6:38 PM Thu 3/3/2011

I thinkI read that Jack Palance was a UNC football player but was not the best ever so left and made a name for himself!<br \><br \>Bebe<br \><br \>PS There is a wonderful cartoon of musicians walking on a log from hmmmm maybe Chatham Co. into Chapel Hill area. In my imagination the log is over Morgan Creek but could have been meant to represent Bolin Creek at the foot of Strowd Hill.. Anyway, it is wonderful!<br \><br \>We lived on McCauley St. in Chapel Hill as sold Dogwood Dr. house to Gordon Blackwell...Uncle Sam did not pay enough for us to keep our quote CHAPELHILLY HOUSE! I recall that Don McCauley, born in MA became the UNC football great in ca 1970. I recall wondering if he were my McCauley cousin, but then thought...hmmm, was born in MA and thought nah. Guess what, his dau. asked me to trace their family and lo and behold John McC.&#39;s elder bro of my Eleanor McC. who marr. Rev. Wilson Atwater had a son who marr. a Merrtit, and along with a sister of my Strowd ancestor, headed west!! Some stayed in AR and some made it all the way to Texas! Don&#39;s ancestor was into AVIATION! and eventually ended up in MA. I had a good time without even leaving home...just me, my computer, and a U.S. map!
 

BEBE JOHNS FOX      6:09 PM Thu 3/3/2011

CONVERSATION ENDS AT MY HOUSE WHEN THE ABOVE AD<br \>COMES ON TV. I AM TOTALLY MESMERIZED BY THE MUSIC!!!!<br \>HAD NO IDEA RE THE CONNECTION TO CHAPEL HILL. I WAS BORN IN 1938 AND MUSTTTT HAVE HEARD IT AS IT JUST FEELS RIGHT!!!<br \><br \>OK...WAS MRS. BAGBY MY DANCE TEACHER ORRRR MY KINDERGARTEN TEACHER. THE FAMILY LIVED CLOSE TO DOGWOOD DRIVE!<br \><br \>Bebe
 

Michael Grace      10:54 PM Fri 2/25/2011

It is mesmerizing to listen to Skinny Ennis, with the Hal Kemp Band in the current Royal Caribbean Commercial, seen so often on TV lately! As a jazz musician, it is so interesting to hear his freedom of phrasing - way ahead of his time!<br \>
 

Susan      1:40 PM Wed 2/9/2011

Hal Kemp was my late father&#39;s favorite band leader. Yesterday evening I heard the unmistakeable sounds of the band with Skinnay Ennis singing &quot;It&#39;s Winter Again&quot; as part of a new TV commercial for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
 

JOAN WAKEFIELD URBAN      5:47 PM Tue 8/17/2010

HI,<br \>MY DAD WAS WALTON WAKEFIELD. HE PLAYED THE CLARINET AND THE SAXAPHONE AND &quot;SAT IN&quot; WITH THE HAL KEMP BAND IN THE GREENVILLE/SPARTINBURG AREA WHEN HE WAS JUST A YOUNG MAN. UNFORTUNATELY, MY MOTHER MOVED TO TEXAS AND DIVORCED MY DAD WHEN I WAS ABOUT 5 YEARS OLD AND SENT ALL THE PICTURES OF DAD PLAYING IN THE BAND BACK TO HIM IN SOUTH CAROLINA. I WOLD LOVE TO KNOW IF IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO OBTAIN ANY PICTURES OF THE BAND FROM THE LATE 20&#39;S?<br \>THANK YOU,<br \>JOAN WAKEFIELD URBAN<br \>CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS
 

Gene Cate      7:47 AM Tue 6/15/2010

Another famous musician who attended UNC (mid to late 40s) is internationally known jazz artist Bud Shank.<br \><br \>And don&#39;t forget movie star Jack Palance---UNC boxing team---46?
 

johnstevens      3:04 PM Mon 6/22/2009

п»ї<br \>Great page. Good stuff.
 

Charly Mann      9:36 PM Wed 4/1/2009

I do remember the old Eubanks and am so glad you brought it up. That scale was the most distinguishing feature, and I remember it being in the very center of Franklin Street. I never remember it being very busy. Perhaps they did not have a soda fountain like Sloan&#39;s and Sutton&#39;s. I wonder what went into that store front when it left. <br \><br \>I have come across a number of ads for Eubanks from the 1920&#39;s, 30&#39;s and 40&#39;s, which I will post in the future. Interestingly, after studying almost 100 years of Chapel Hill newspapers, I cannot find a single ad for Sloan&#39;s Drugstore. I am about to do a feature on Chapel Hill bands, and Lee Sloan, the son of the man who owned Sloan&#39;s, now probably about 58, was the lead singer of a couple of groups in the mid 60&#39;s.
 

BEBE FOX      7:26 PM Wed 4/1/2009

Anybody out there who remembers Eubanks Drugstore and the sleek counter and tallllll scale...well, was tall to me as a child as was that arrowhead monument on the grounds of the old Hillsborough Court House!<br \>I went to elementary school which was also on the site of University Square. Choo Choo Justice was the girls PE teacher when doing his stint as a practice teacher! As I recall we played a lot of roller bat. The boys had Hosea Rogers. My second grade teacher was Mres. Shipp Saunders...little did I know that her brother was the wonderful UNC Pres., Dr. Frank Porter Graham AND midnight Graham after whom both a book was written and a movie was made...the latter was The Field of Dreams. I have so many memories and have also much from doing research...<br \><br \>Bebe<br \><br \><br \>
 

Patsy Bagby      12:28 PM Wed 3/18/2009

I always thought Kay Kyser was the composer of Hark the Sounds. It looks like Kay also owed a lot to Kemp, and seemed to follow in his footsteps.
 

NeilClassof75      9:59 AM Wed 3/18/2009

I love this version of HARK THE SOUNDS.
 

Briana White      8:43 AM Wed 3/18/2009

I&#39;m amazed at the diverse information you have on Chapel Hill and The University. This is a &quot;warm and fuzzy&quot; website for me.
 

Purefoy Road Woman      8:47 PM Tue 3/17/2009

I had never heard of Hal Kemp, and I was born in Chapel Hill in 1944, and have lived there most of my life. These songs are great. I especially love &quot;Hark the Sounds&quot;.
 

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Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.

 

 

What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt

 

 

Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".

 

 

Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies
oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com
http://oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.

 

 

The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.

 

 

 

 

William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.

 

 

The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.

 

 

Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.

 

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.

 

 

The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.

 

 

Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.

 

 

Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.

 

 

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