Durham record label makes Grammy impression

Durham company Merge Records released the Album of the Year winner, "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire.

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DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham-based record label was among several acts with North Carolina ties to take home Grammy Awards on Sunday night. 

Durham company Merge Records released the Album of the Year winner, "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire.

The small independent record label started in 1989 in Chapel Hill and eventually moved to downtown Durham. 

Canadian band Arcade Fire first contacted Merge about a decade ago. 

"They drove all the way from Montreal to meet the label and get to meet everyone," said Lindsey Kronmiller, of Merge. 

The band has been with Merge, basically, their entire career, Kronmiller said. 

That collaboration eventually led to the band's Grammy win. The award was presented by Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

"I couldn't believe it. I heard Barbra Streisand stutter kind of like, stumble over 'Suburbs,'" Kronmiller said. 

The band also rocked the Grammy stage with a live performance. 

Almost immediately, Merge officials said, album sales went up – moving the company into uncharted territory. Phones were ringing off the hook on Monday morning. 

"We're excited to see what happens, definitely, and hopefully it means, not just Arcade Fire, but other bands on our label will get more exposure," Kronmiller said. 

Tim Duffy, manager of the Durham-based band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, is also experiencing that sense of wonder. His band won a Grammy for best traditional folk album for "Genuine Negro Jig."

Duffy discovered the band six years ago when he saw them playing at a festival. 

"I was so excited. I was overtaken by those guys," he said. 

Duffy said the band carries on the traditions of fiddler Joe Thompson of Mebane.

"I'm just happy for them and to see black music, black string band music, get such recognition throughout the academy. It's the first time," Duffy said. 

Another North Carolina winner at Sunday night's Grammy Awards was  "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino. The High Point native and current Charlotte resident scored a Grammy for breakthrough, winning Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

The Avett Brothers, which also call North Carolina home, joined Mumford & Sons and a very raspy Bob Dylan for a performance during the telecast. 


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