UNCG Magazine

The show must go on

Martha Bassett '96 MM

Soon after graduating from UNCG’s School of Music, Martha Bassett ’96 MM made a name for herself with her first band, Martha and the Moodswingers. Nine albums later, the jazz singer realized she was at a crossroads. She could either commit to developing a national audience or invest more at home – and North Carolina had become her home.

“And I really wanted to go deeper into the North Carolina audience and find a new way of doing things,” she says. She also wanted to create more opportunities for women performers.

When Elkin’s Reeves Theater called her to ask about doing a regular show, she could tell it was the place where her vision could unfold. Her partner Pat Lawrence stepped up to serve as producer, and together they onboarded the best technical people they knew.

The goal was to have an old-time radio show, similar to “A Prairie Home Companion,” and they wanted to host national, regional, and local artists.

“And we just figured it out as we went,” she says. “I just tried to work with the best people and the most pleasant people and focus on hospitality for artists.”

The roster of guests has included bass player Missy Raines; singers Heather Maloney, Jill Andrews, Gaelynn Lea, Sam Baker, Elizabeth Cook, and Jim White; fiddler Rex McGee; the Dan River Girls, who sing with Bassett’s band; Chance McCoy, of Old Crow Medicine Show; teenage wonder Presley Barker, who has already played the Grand Ole Opry; and Spartan alumni and singer-songwriters Casey Noel ’19, Lyn Koonce ’92, and Bruce Piephoff ’82, ’84 MFA.

See the schedule for shows and streaming, as well as podcasts of the shows, here.

By Susan Kirby-Smith
Photography, in Elkin, by Martin W. Kane

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