Announcing: Music in the Gardens 2024: The Country Soul Songbook Edition!

Announcing: Music in the Gardens 2024: The Country Soul Songbook Edition!

Duke Arts is thrilled to announce that this year’s Music in the Gardens, now FREE to all, will be presented in partnership with Country Soul Songbook (CSSB). Music in the Gardens: The Country Soul Songbook Edition will be a five-concert showcase of musicians who fulfill CSSB’s mission to amplify historically marginalized voices (BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists) in American roots music— specifically country, Americana, folk and rock. The full line-up will be announced in May.

Music in the Gardens is a popular annual concert series held outdoors at Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Duke’s campus. This year, for the first time, concerts will be broadcast live on WXDU 88.7 FM, Duke University Radio, allowing audiences to tune in live from anywhere in Durham or online at

May 29–June 26, 2024

WEDNESDAYS AT 7PM | Sarah P. Duke Gardens


Weekly concerts will be broadcast live on WXDU.

Tickets are released one week prior to each performance; reservations for the first concert will be available on May 21.

Learn more about this new partnership in INDYWeek

Created by Artists, for Artists

Country Soul Songbook, led by Kamara Thomas and Kym Register, will curate each date in the season by selecting local, regional and national musicians to play their original material as well as pay tribute to under-recognized voices in the American roots canon.

In the days leading up to each performance, CSSB will facilitate collaborations between local musicians and visiting guests. Artists will rehearse for both the concert and a recording session for a compilation album.

“These are precisely the voices and music that Duke Arts seeks to amplify through our presenting series, and Country Soul Songbook has been an ideal partner for this work,” stated Duke Arts Director of Programming, Aaron Shackelford.

“Our vision is to invite more of the community not just to sit on the grass with us, but to have greater participation on stage and, perhaps more importantly, have a voice in who gets invited to that stage and why.” —Aaron Shackelford

“This initial project will set a precedent for bringing a partner organization’s perspectives and skills to the Music in the Gardens audiences. This partnership allows us to leverage the resources of Duke Arts to uplift the artistic insights and talents of some of our many talented neighbors and cultural organizations.”

“I’ve always seen Music in the Gardens as an anchor of Durham’s cultural scene, and we are excited to bring our intersectional community of local and visiting artists to kick off the local summer concert season.” —Kamara Thomas

“There is a limitless pool of artists that we want to continue spotlighting, so the opportunity to curate the whole five-week series gives us the space and resources to put our mission of integrating music stages into action. We cannot wait to share the lineup with you,” says Kamara Thomas, co-founder of Country Soul Songbook.

“Country Soul Songbook believes in the power of music to gather community for more than just music’s sake,” says CSSB’s co-founder, Kym Register. With this belief in mind, each concert will feature a community partner, turning the spotlight onto some of the culture workers and foodways organizations whose efforts are essential to creating and maintaining Durham’s vibrant communities.


Left: Photo of Kamara Thomas by Derrick Beasley, Right: Photo of Kym Register by Cameron Cook


Learn More About Country Soul Songbook

About Music in the Gardens

Weekly concerts will begin at 7 p.m. EDT every Wednesday from May 29 through June 26, 2024. Digital reservations are required for admission and will be made available at on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. one week prior to each performance date. While concerts are free, space is limited and reservations are required. To make these concerts accessible to all, Duke Arts will be partnering with community organizations throughout Durham to distribute up to 50% of total inventory. If you would like to suggest a community partner, please email

Music in the Gardens concerts take place on the lawn behind the Doris Duke Center. Lawn chairs, picnics, and blankets are encouraged. Pets are not allowed. Outside food and beverages, including beer and wine, are permitted and will also be available for purchase on site. The lawn will open at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the performance, and parking is available at the Gardens for $2/hour until 7 p.m. In the event of rain, an alternate location will be announced by 1 p.m. on the day of the event.

The full lineup will be announced in early May.


Presented by Duke Arts in partnership with Sarah P. Duke Gardens and Country Soul Songbook with support from WXDU and Duke Summer Session.