A musician born and raised in North Carolina, John Westmoreland has been a professional performer and teacher for over a decade. He grew up playing blues, rock, and folk music, and went on to study jazz and classical composition at Berklee College of Music. In 2011 he became a founding member and lead guitarist for the West-African fusion band Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba. As a solo artist, and with his band Westmoreland, John performs his original songs and compositions in a style that interweaves elements across many genres, such as folk, Americana, world music, and jazz into a distinctive tapestry of sound. In 2019 he released his debut album, “Cast Fire" which has received attention and air play across the US and abroad. John is now working on a project to resurrect the music and poetry of his forgotten Finnish American ancestor, T-bone Slim, a legendary hobo songwriter poet, and IWW columnist who was a seminal figure in the labor movement. After his death in 1942, T-bone Slim faded into the shadows and was even forgotten by his own family until John rediscovered him in December, 2016. In the time since, John has presented research and performed new versions of T-bone Slim’s songs at academic institutions and events such as the 2019 LAWCHA conference at Duke University, the annual WCSA conference at the University of Kent in Canterbury, and at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. He’s currently collaborating with documentary filmmaker, and associate professor at NCCU, Bruce DePyssler, to produce and release the first film about the life of T-bone Slim. In addition to the documentary, John is writing music to T-bone’s unpublished songs and poetry to be recorded and released on the first compilation album of T-bone Slim’s songs. This project has so far captured the attention of academics, authors, and musicians such as Billy Bragg, and Finnish hip hop artist, Paleface.
In addition to being a performer, John has a passion for exploring how music can facilitate deep relaxation and healing. He provides music for yoga classes and meditation, relaxation music sessions for people with Alzheimers and Dementia, and he regularly performs as part of UNC Hospital’s Door to Door music program. In 2014 he was a recipient of the Emerging Artists Grant from the Durham Arts Council, to travel to Peru to study "Icaros", a tradition of shamanic healing music from Amazonia. In October 2019 John became a recipient of the prestigious North Carolina Artist Fellowship.