Triad’s Birth of Cool

Cool Music Notes by Ron Eldridge

By Ron Eldridge

The room is dark, only lit by one spotlight. The props are in the middle of the floor. The Jazz music in the background presents a soothing ambiance. Out walks the subject with an intriguing scan of their surroundings, not sure what to expect, as the photologist takes the time setting the tone … lighting … body position … relaxing the subject with the settings and expectation of the process they are about to experience. QUIET ON THE SET, PLEASE!

With the precision of a psychoanalyst, this photo journalist prepares the mental state of mind of all of his subjects. The ultimate objective of this photo master is to present through photography the innermost part of one’s persona, along with their musical abilities. The net result is one like the subject has never known.

Mr. Owens Daniels is the quintessence photo journalist of North Carolina, if not the country! It is Daniels’ vision to capture the true essence of the quality artistic musical talents that exist among us here in the Triad. Daniels’ compassion for the Jazz, Blues, R&B, Country, and Folk genres is what led him to pay homage to our very eclectic musical community. Daniels says, “I have a love for the musicians as well for the music.” One of the ironic points of Daniels is that he is so humbled to be in the presence of his subjects, just as much as they are humbled to be in his.

“The Birth of Cool” is a world class photo exhibit of some of the Triad’s most exalted, seasoned musical talents. Can you imagine seeing life-size portraits of Matt Kendrick, Joe Robinson, Big Ron Hunter, Diana Tuffin, Vanessa Ferguson, Sonja Bennett Brown, Nick Hayes, and many more local icons?

One cool aspect of the “Birth of Cool” is that it all began here in Forsyth County. The Winston-Salem Urban League was the first to display this soon-to-be legendary photo exhibit, with rave reviews and capacity attendance. The Mason Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta, Ga. was the exhibit’s first-out-of-state stop. The results were stellar.
As the old saying goes, “Behind every great man, there is his soul mate.” Truth be told, if it was not for the encouragement of Mr. Daniels’ wife Sonjy Bambi David Daniels, there may have not been a “Birth of Cool.” She was with him every step of the way.

Local folks, prepare to catch the Owens Daniels “Birth of Cool” exhibit wave here in Winston-Salem! During the month of June 2016, make your way down to the New Winston Museum, 713 Marshall St. in Winston Salem, and view one of North Carolina’s most prestigious photo exhibitions. Experience Owen Daniels; meet and greet live Jazz and Blues entertainers, the actual melodious subjects of his photography; and meet new friends who have the same appreciation of the Arts as you. It’s an exhibit not to be missed.

Venture into the world of Owens Daniels at


About: Ron Eldridge

Ron Big “E” Eldridge is a Winston Salem resident and aspiring freelance writer. Listen to Big “E” radio program, “Sunset Jazz,” on WNAA 90.1 FM every Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m.

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