Burdett, winner of Our State’s ‘Carolina Songs’ competitionPublished 9:42am Friday, February 15, 2013
Aaron Burdett, singer/songwriter from Saluda, has emerged as the winner of the first Carolina Songs competition from Our State magazine. The competition, which ended Sept. 30, 2012, called for original, North Carolina-inspired songs that “celebrate the place we call home.” A panel of musicians and songwriters selected Burdett’s song, “Going Home to Carolina,” from more than 200 entries and 20 finalists.
Burdett began writing “Going Home to Carolina” 15 years ago when he was working a summer job in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and longing for the mountains of North Carolina. The song has changed over the years, but Burdett performs it at almost every show, and it’s a crowd favorite.
Burdett is a regular in the Asheville music scene, having recently released his fourth album, “Breathing Underwater.” The album was voted no. 10 in the regional releases category and no. 51 overall on WNCW’s Top 100 list of 2012 releases. Burdett has collaborated on past albums with members of Big Daddy Love, Acoustic Syndicate, Free Planet Radio and Snake Oil Medicine Show. He has also opened for the Avett Brothers.
In his early 20s, Burdett spent time playing with some Irish musicians who traveled to the mountains of North Carolina to attend bluegrass festivals. In a serendipitous twist of fate, Doc Watson attended one of their jam sessions. Burdett — he’s ashamed to admit it now — didn’t know enough about Watson to have stage fright, so he performed one of his original songs for the legend. Watson slapped his knee in time with the music, and when the song was finished, he asked, “Who wrote that song, son? Sounds like some of my adventures when I was a boy!”
Watson played later that night, and Burdett says it’s been one of the few times in his life that seeing someone play an acoustic guitar has made him change the way he approaches the instrument.
That night, Burdett realized two things: 1) “the amount of music, connection, and energy a performer wields has nothing to do with volume or how many members in the band,” and 2) “up until that point, I had no idea how to play a guitar.”
After this night, there was a sharp pivot in Burdett’s concept of traditional mountain music and guitar playing.