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Local favorites to rock legends: What Carrboro Town Council members are listening to


While the Carrboro Town Council shares a duty to serve their community, they do not necessarily share the same taste in music. A collaborative playlist from the group of elected officials could include anything from slow R&B to black metal, with hints of local musicians like Elizabeth Cotten or drummer Laura King.

Staff writer Grace Whittemore reached out to Carrboro Town Council members to ask about their music tastes and the impact of the music scene on Carrboro as a community.

Mayor Barbara Foushee

Foushee said she likes to listen to a hodge-podge of different music, but most often listens to smooth R&B from artists like The O’Jays or Frankie Beverly & Maze. 

“I run a pretty hectic schedule, being the mayor and also having my full-time day job,” Foushee said. “I have a lot of obligations, so when I can put in my earbuds and listen to some smooth R&B I’m pretty happy.”

Foushee also said Usher has been heavy in her playlist rotation since he was featured in Super Bowl LVIII’s halftime show and released a new album.

Council member Danny Nowell

Nowell said one of his most played songs recently is “Everybody Dies” by the band Superchunk, which features Carrboro’s own Laura King on the drums. 

“I’m a huge Superchunk fan,” he said. “They have made like five incredible records in the past seven years or so. They just keep getting better, and that's just remarkable to me.”

Nowell said it would be difficult to pick one music genre he enjoys the most, though he most often listens to indie rock.

Council member Randee Haven-O'Donnell

Haven-O’Donnell said, even as her music taste has evolved, she has always been a fan of the Grateful Dead.

“I’m a lifelong deadhead, and have been so since 1967 or '68,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “Their music is pulled from folk, from blues and from jazz. Their fusion of those three genres is the soundtrack of my life, literally.” 

Haven-O’Donnell said she is a fan of Carrboro native Elizabeth Cotten. She said she was a fan of Cotten’s music even before she moved to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area from New York.

“It was total 'cosmicity' that we came to the Chapel Hill area, and then as I started to get familiar with the area before we even moved, I found out Elizabeth Cotten was from Carrboro,” she said. 

Council member Jason Merrill

Merrill said that a song he's been playing on recently is “Right Back to It” by the band Waxahatchee featuring Asheville-based artist MJ Lenderman.

Even though Merrill described his most-played song as being in the pop-country genre, he said his music taste is generally varied. 

“I’m a musical omnivore,” Merrill said. “'I’ve been listening to a lot of black metal recently, which is a super obscure, ultra-fast version, kind of offshoot of heavy metal.”

'It's Carrboro'

Even though each council member has a unique and personal taste, they emphasized how important music is to the community in Carrboro.

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“It's hard to overstate how important I think music is here,” Nowell said. “I think it is something that really binds people across multiple places in the community.”

The popularity of Cat’s Cradle, the multitude of summer music festivals and popular support for initiatives like the 203 Project show that the Carrboro community deeply cares about the music scene, Foushee said.

Merrill even said the robust music scene and community he experienced at Cat’s Cradle is part of what brought him to Carrboro after he graduated from college.

Carrboro had its own theme song and accompanying music video called “It’s Carrboro” posted to YouTube in 2006. Despite being nearly two decades old, the song references Carrboro locations and businesses still operating today, like Weaver Street Market, Open Eye Cafe, The Spotted Dog and Cat’s Cradle.

Haven-O’Donnell said, even though the song is a bit outdated, the theme song encapsulates the edginess and humor that can still be seen in the Carrboro community today.

@DTHCityState |