South Carolina’s coastal region, known as the Lowcountry, has a rich musical history that has been shaped by people who have inhabited the region, including the native Edisto, Sewee and Kiawah Indians, planters from Barbados, early French Huguenot settlers and of course West African and Caribbean slaves brought to work the rice, indigo and later, cotton, plantations that were the Carolinas' economic engine. Today the influences of Gullah culture, including remnants of a creole-based language and culinary and craft traditions, are a vital part of Lowcountry heritage.
In 2012, Nathan Nelson founded Lowcountry Voices, a multicultural and ethnically diverse choral performing arts organization based in North Charleston, SC, in an effort to give voice to those distinct traditions and to preserve the cultural legacy and authenticity of African-American music. Its repertoire includes traditional and contemporary gospel music, spirituals, hymns, jazz, classical choral music, and music from the theater and movies. The choir is based in North Charleston, but its members are drawn from across the entire Lowcountry region and beyond.
LCV has cultivated partnerships with various choirs in the region, including the College of Charleston Gospel Choir and Claflin University Concert Choir, and has performed at the Inaugural Lincoln Center Global Exchange Evening Performance and with James Taylor in 2015. The Lowcountry Voices provided music at the services for the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the slain pastor of the Mother Emanuel AME tragedy, and provided the background singing behind President Obama’s rendition of Amazing Grace. In July, 2015, LCV took the sounds of the Lowcountry internationally to Bermuda for two enthusiastically received performances.