Sandy Carlton remembers the first time he picked up an instrument. At that point, he realized the importance of music, having spent many days on the porch humming tunes with his grandmother and watching her play the piano and organ.
Never had he realized that those days would be a tune-up for a 40-year career of singing and songwriting.
As North Carolina celebrates its Spark the Arts Movement, Carlton wants to encourage those considering becoming a musician to take a leap of faith.
The campaign is designed to raise awareness and highlight the ability of art to provide healing and comfort. Carlton is living proof of what therapeutic art can be, claiming it was a means of escape for him as a young boy who was irritated by his living conditions.
âI think it was children’s therapy for me,â Carlton said. âOne of the things I learned along the way was that a musical instrument or a piece of paper and a pencil can be your best friend. They can be a leader, but they don’t judge you.
Shearra Miller, president of the Cleveland County Arts Council, agrees and spoke about the impact art can have on someone’s life.
âIf you need a place to eat, our doors are open,â Miller said. âAnything that inspires you and anything you love, do it. And you don’t need to paint or draw. You can also appreciate the works of others.
Carlton has performed with groups such as Cleveco, Momma Said, and the Peelers Mill Band. He’s also the host of Big Sound, Small Town, a podcast that features local musicians and gives them a platform to share their story.
His musical career is a far cry from the life his parents envisioned for him, but he wouldn’t have done it any other way.
âIt’s something I’ve loved my whole life,â Carlton said. âMy parents weren’t really pushing the music industry, thinking there was better to be done. I think they seen me become a preacher, but it’s kind of the same.
Carlton said he was a fan of almost all genres of music and noticed his songwriting skills when he was in elementary school.
âI realized this when I started writing in school as a child and won awards for writing,â Carlton said. âI realized that with songwriting you had to write it in three minutes instead of writing 300 pages. “
Carlton said music is a form of therapy and has helped him overcome some of the biggest challenges of his life.
âI was a pretty angry young man,â Carlton said. âI was overwhelmed by the inequalities in life. I was very resentful of being born. Live music can lift your spirits and lift your soul on any level. It takes you away from the harsh realities of the world.
Ron Philbeck knew early on that he wanted to be part of the arts family as well. But his parents insisted that he pursue a career that would give him a better income. So he went to North Carolina State University to get a math degree.
However, it won’t be long before Ron owner Philbeck Pottery returns to his true passion.
âI had always wanted to go to art school,â Philbeck said. âThat’s what I wanted to do. My parents thought I should get a degree in something you could make a living on. “
Unlike Carlton, Philbeck was slow to notice his skills.
âI hadn’t realized my talent,â Philbeck said. âHonestly, I wasn’t good at it. I was not natural. I had to learn the techniques. It took repetition. It’s like learning a sport. You have to do it over and over again. I have always liked to draw. I thought I was a painter or a sculptor. Once I started making pottery I discovered it was a beautiful thing that people used on a daily basis. It’s beautiful and useful and it spoke to me.
As he carefully shapes the clay in his hands, he leans in a place of comfort. At that point, he chooses to appreciate what art can and has done for him. He knows that every pot, coffee mug, plate and bowl of cereal sold has enabled him to be a successful entrepreneur and give back to the county that has supported him since he started his business over 30 years ago. .
âI enjoy all the arts, but when people buy a piece of pottery, they connect with the person who made it and the materials it came from,â Philbeck said. âThere can be this intimate connection between the manufacturer and the user. It’s one of those things that will be there 1,000 years after I leave.
Latrice Williams can be reached at 704-669-3339 and [email protected]