Digging Up Thelonious Monk's Southern Roots

The jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk would have celebrated his 90th birthday on October 10, 2007. Monk died in 1982. Besides his penchant for odd hats and other eccentricities, Monk is usually remembered as a hip New Yorker. He was a pioneer of Bebop who lived most of his life on Manhattan’s West Side. But Monk was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and raised by his mother, a native of that tobacco and railroad town. Some scholars and fellow musicians say Monk’s Southern roots had an overlooked but important influence on the man and his music.  Our story was produced by John Biewen of CDS Radio and edited by Tom Cole.