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Saturday, April 27, 2024 4:30PM


The NCMA and Come Hear NC present the 2024 Music at the Museum Festival, featuring Tift Merritt and More!


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MAM Fest is back with five NC-rooted artists in celebration of the musical diversity the state has to offer! This year we bring two artists home and other series favorites back to our main stage. Purchase tickets to join us live or watch by TV/web thanks to our friends at PBS NC, who will be live broadcasting the festival.

The lineup includes:

Tift Merritt
The New Yorker has called Tift Merritt “the bearer of a proud tradition of distaff country soul that reaches back to artists like Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry.” Upholding that high standard began in earnest with Bramble Rose, the 2002 solo debut that put her on the map forever. The Associated Press called it the best debut of the year in any genre. As her Grammy-nominated sophomore album, Tambourine, was followed by Another Country, See You on the Moon, and Traveling Alone, Merritt found acclaim coming not just from critics and awards organizations but her own heroes, like Emmylou Harris, who marveled that Merritt “stood out like a diamond in a coal patch.” In 2015 “Bramble Rose,” the song from her debut, was covered by Don Henley (feat. Mick Jagger and Miranda Lambert) on his critically acclaimed solo album Cass County. BUST raved of Merritt’s latest album, “Stitch of the World resonates like a book you just cannot put down,” and NPR wrote, “Stitch of the World contains some of her best writing.”

Merritt is a North Carolina native who wanted to be a writer until her father taught her guitar chords and Percy Sledge songs. Since starting a band while a creative writing student at UNC, Merritt has released a unique, critically acclaimed body of work, including seven full-length albums of original material and three live records. In her nearly 20-year career, she has toured around the world and shared the stage with bands as varied as Iron & Wine, Nick Lowe, and Jason Isbell. Merritt has also recorded with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein and played harmonic foil and rhythm guitar for the singular Andrew Bird in his old-time band, The Hands of Glory. Most recently, Merritt has been a regular contributor to the Oxford American, chronicling her travels with her young daughter, Jean.

Kooley High

While attending NC State University, five individuals were brought together via a love of music to form Kooley High. Since its inception the dynamic collective has consistently delivered a body of work marked by both continuity and quality, navigating the ever-changing currents of hip-hop.

Comprising two skilled emcees, Charlie Smarts and Tab-One, alongside producers Sinopsis and Foolery and the talented DJ Ill Digitz, this North Carolina–based ensemble has garnered acclaim for their numerous releases. Notably, they had the privilege of crafting their latest album, Never Come Down, with the Grammy award–winning artist 9th Wonder serving as executive producer. Kooley High has graced stages alongside Little Brother, Rapsody, and J. Cole. Their impactful presence and dedication position Kooley High as a torchbearer of North Carolina’s rich hip-hop music legacy.


Thảo Nguyễn (better known simply as Thao) is a veteran artist, songwriter, touring musician, and producer, originally from Northern Virginia. Throughout her impressive career, she’s released music via legendary labels Kill Rock Stars and Domino Record Company imprint Ribbon Music. Thao’s been featured by the New York Times, NPR, Austin City Limits, Pitchfork, Washington Post, and more. Thao has also been the subject of a PBS–aired documentary exploring her first trip to Vietnam as the daughter of refugees who fled during that country’s civil war. In 2023 she once again teamed up with PBS, acting as the host of a series about artists redefining the notion of Southernness.

Rafiq Bhatia

The New York Times proclaimed, “Rafiq Bhatia is writing his own musical language,” describing him as “a guitarist who refuses to be pinned to one genre, culture or instrument.” “His transient approach, combined with his obsession of assiduously studying the past in order to break cleanly from it, makes him one of the most intriguing figures in music today.”

Bhatia’s 2018 album Breaking English (Anti- Records) finds a visceral common ground between ecstatic avant-garde jazz, mournful soul, tangled strings, and building-shaking electronics, resulting in a “stunningly focused new sound” (Chicago Reader) that “resemble[s] science fiction on a blockbuster scale” (Washington Post). His 2020 EP, Standards Vol. 1 (Anti-) renders repertoire from the American songbook “completely deconstructed, infused with brand new textures and electronic effects, dreamlike and beautiful” (BBC).

Since 2014 Bhatia has been a member of the trio Son Lux. Together, they’ve released several critically acclaimed albums and given hundreds of performances internationally. Most recently, they were nominated for Academy and BAFTA awards for their score for the A24 best-picture winner Everything Everywhere All at Once. A voracious collaborator, Bhatia has also worked with a multitude of artists across generations and musical communities, including Arooj Aftab, Holland Andrews, Hanna Benn, Ian Chang, Sam Dew, Dave Douglas, Marcus Gilmore, Mary Halvorson, Billy Hart, Shahzad Ismaily, Vijay Iyer, Kassa Overall, Kronos Quartet, Okkyung Lee, Nina Moffitt, Qasim Naqvi, Kassa Overall, Chris Pattishall, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Alex Somers, Moses Sumney, Anjna Swaminathan, Rajna Swaminathan, and David Virelles.

Alexis Raeana

Radiant and brazen, the soulful Alexis Raeana has a powerful, alluring voice that could start a revolution. This Southeastern Indigenous songwriter brings her own singing style of memorable melodies that electrifies ecospheres. Her single “Keep My Memory” matches beautiful sultry harmonies that enthrall, supported by a powerful message creating awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). The music video for “Keep My Memory” was awarded the Lumbee Film of the Year at the Lumbee Film Festival.

Built for comfort and speed, this rising star’s performances include the Live Oak Bank Pavilion with Wilmington Symphony Winds, KONA Hawaii tour, “We the Peoples Before” at the Kennedy Center, Caesars Palace, American Idol, environmental justice rallies in Washington, DC, an artist in residence at the Kennedy Center, Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the Spectrum Center. Named a WILMA Rising Star finalist, Raeana aims to protect Turtle Island with her activism and provide a sound you’ve never heard but your soul desires. She is gearing up for the release of her debut album, The Southern Scorpio, in 2024.

Photos: Courtesy of the artists; Rafiq Bhatia: John Klukas; Thao: Shervin Lainez

Musician photo and recording policy

No photography or video or audio recording of any kind allowed.

No smoking allowed inside venue gates.

Can’t wait for the show? Join the Music at the Museum Festival concert text group, where we’ll provide real-time weather and traffic-related info on the day of the show. To join, text NCMAMAMFest2024 to 72727. We promise not to send annoying frequent texts, just useful messages and updates. Standard text and data rates apply, and you can stop at any time.

Do you or a family member need a general accommodation for your visit? Contact the visitor experience team at

Presented in partnership with

Tickets go on sale January 18 at 10 am for this event. Please contact our Visitor Experience Department at for more information.

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