WADESBORO, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – In small towns like Wadesboro, the stereotype is that everyone knows everyone. So, it’s surprising when lifelong residents are blindsided by a local claim to fame.
“It’s just like wow, we have history here,” said Olivia Tucker, in awe as she saw a new mural being painted downtown across the street from the Anson County courthouse.
“It just seems like; this is a pretty important thing,” says artist Scott Nurkin, who gives places across the state a point of pride.
Scott Nurkin gives places across the state a point of pride.
We watched him put the finishing touches on his latest piece. Way up high, his elevated work in progress is an instant source of curiosity.
“The highlights, the details of the clothes, the guitar. And then… how big he has it,” Tucker said.
Nurkin hopes natives step back and learn to take in the town’s past.
“This is Blind Boy Fuller, he was a blues musician,” he explained.
The 1930s guitarist was born in Wadesboro.
“Man, that’s dope right there,” a man on the street yelled. “You painted the hell out of that I’m telling you. You go man!”
“I didn’t know he was from here!” another shouted.
“He’s from here. He was born here,” Nurkin told passersby.
“Nine times out of ten can’t believe it, because they’re like, ‘How?’ Cause they’ve lived here their entire lives and not know. And that’s why it’s important for me to do this,” he told Queen City News.
Nurkin is also a musician and lives in Chapel Hill but is originally from Charlotte.
Nearly a decade ago he created the NC Musician Murals Project and began painting pieces in the towns where legends were born. They’re funded through municipalities, private donations, or crowdsourcing efforts.
“So I got the idea, I’m a mural painter… I love musicians, I love music… if I could go to these towns specifically and paint ‘em that would be fantastic,” says Nurkin.
His work commemorates the likes of Ben E. King in Henderson and Ronnie Milsap in Robbinsville. Nurkin’s John Coltrane mural is in Hamlet, while Randy Travis is on a wall in Marshville.
In Shelby, there are two: Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson. Others include Roberta Flack in Black Mountain and Nina Simone in Tryon,
He hopes each piece conveys a little NC history that many aren’t even aware of.
“I thought, why did I not learn this in fourth grade North Carolina History. That to me should be as important as learning about Sir Walter Raleigh,” said Nurkin.
He’s painted 13 musician murals across the Tar Heel State, including Blind Boy Fuller.
“You don’t hear many people that came from here,” Tucker said.
Folks in Wadesboro stopped to shake the artist’s hand.
“It is very very nice… me and my friend said, ‘It’s very nice,’” a woman told Nurkin.
“Oh, y’all are very sweet you made my day,” he replied.
The project is a creative source of civic pride. Each mural makes you Imagine if walls could jam.
“It’s really gratifying,” Nurkin says.
For more on the NC Musician Murals Project, please click here.