Quentin Talley is one of the most active musicians in Charlotte, which is especially impressive considering he hasn’t actually lived here in three years.
The multi-hyphenated talent who built his name up in Charlotte’s poetry, theatre and music scenes over more than a decade moved to Durham in the summer of 2019 to take a job as program director at the Hayti Heritage Center.
“It’s cool because they let me be an artist and get the job done for them as curator for their programming as well,” he told me during a recent Friday afternoon phone call, not surprisingly from Charlotte, where he said he wasn’t performing but working on another side project.
“Durham ain’t but a hop, skip and a jump,” he continued. “I’m always traveling back and forth, doing gigs here.”
Anyone who’s been to Camp North End on a Friday night and seen him performing with his Charlotte-based band the Soul Providers — or anyone who’s a regular at any number of jazz-friendly venues in the city, for that matter — can attest to that. Quentin Talley might just fall through at any time.
The idea gives all the more relevance to Quentin Talley and the Soul Providers’ debut EP, Fall Thru, which dropped on July 1. The project consists of one extended song cut into four tracks to serve as an anthem for getting outside this summer.
The group has been fine-tuning the piece over the past two years, waiting for that time when they felt comfortable to put it out there — comfortable with the music and comfortable with the climate.
“Last year, we thought it was time and then the Omicron came back and got us,” Talley explained. “And we still had some more mixing to do anyway. But I’m hoping it will be somewhat of an anthem for people to call up their people that they ain’t seen in a minute, tell them to fall through and have a drink or get up at a certain spot and just kind of hang out and catch up with folks that you haven’t seen.”
The song is a plea for socialization, all in the upbeat and uplifting soulful jazz style fans have come to expect from Quentin Talley and the Soul Providers over the years.
It was back in 2006 that Quentin Talley began to build his Charlotte arts empire with the launch of OnQ Productions, a breath of fresh air in a city that at the time had no other Black-led theatre companies. All of Talley’s plays incorporate live music, especially the popular Soulful Noel show, which got him networking with local artists. He also had a strong presence in the local spoken-word poetry scene.
It was around 2010 when Talley began performing music at the weekly spoken-word event Touch One Thursdays at the now-closed Wine Up in NoDa. From there he began hosting Soul Stage, a weekly open mic that began at Allure and eventually moved to Red’s @ 28th.
“That’s when I really started working with musicians on a regular basis,” Talley recalled.
About seven years ago, he formed Quentin Talley and the Soul Providers, switching band members over time until, about three years ago, he felt confident enough to cement the lineup. There are still rotations here and there based on scheduling conflicts for shows, but for the most part, the band today consists of Talley on vocals, Curtis Hayes on keys, Courtney Gibson on bass, Stefan Kallander on guitar, and Jesse Williams on drums.
Coming off the release of Fall Thru, the band has a busy couple of months scheduled in Charlotte.
On July 25, Talley will host Christmas in July at Grindhaus Studios in the VAPA Center to mark the halfway point until OnQ’s 10th anniversary celebration of Soulful Noel. On July 31, he will join the Soul Providers onstage for the second iteration of Musicology 101, in which the band performs classic hits that have been heavily sampled while DJ D.R. cuts in with the tracks that borrowed those sounds.
Then on Aug. 21, the band will perform on the Pure Intentions Coffee Stage at the inaugural QC Jam Session, a multi-genre festival chock-full of local musicians and out-of-towners.
“I think it’s going to be great for the city,” Talley said of the festival. “Folks have tried to do that stuff before but it’s usually all one genre. I like that this one is kind of all-inclusive with various genres, which really opens it up to music lovers of all kinds. I think it will do very, very well.
“I tell people all the time, North Carolina and Charlotte particularly … Charlotte in general has some of the best musicians hands down in every genre,” he added.
And that’s all the reason you need to fall through.
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