A year before architect and NC State alumnus Frank Lee Craig succumbed to his six-year battle with a malignant brain tumor in 2009, the part-time musician laid down six tracks for the album The Disance Is So Near. That release came out in 2011 (and we did a story about that release).
But last month, Margret Kentgens-Craig, Craig’s widow, released a second posthumous CD. Crack in the Sky is a collection of nine songs, ranging in styles from Americana to folk rock to blues, that Craig never got to record professionally in a studio.
Kentgens-Craig says she took the recordings, most of them from casette tapes, to a Raleigh studio for production. But she says the studio said the recording quality didn’t meet industry standards. So the studio offered to cut the nine songs from scratch with studio musicians.
That’s when she was steadfast in her refusal to have anyone but Craig play his songs. “I was afraid we’d lose Frank’s voice,” she says.
The CD, which is available at Quail Ridge Books, is a testament to Craig’s creative side that stretched far beyond his work designing buildings for a Raleigh architect firm, says Kentgens-Craig, an adjunct associate professor at NC State’s College of Design. He also made jewelry, produced art and was an avid photographer.
“He was a maker,” she says, adding that Craig flourished because of his training at the College of Design in the late 1970s. “A lot of his creativity came to development at this school. He really belonged here. This is where Frank got his real training in fundamental design.”
Crack in the Sky is a project Kentgens-Craig believes would have pleased her late husband, especially since she employed some help to get it released in the songs’ organic, original forms. She contacted Mickey Raphael, Willie Nelson’s harmonca player, who agreed to play harmonica over the title track. And she enlisted German bassist Many Miketta to add his bassline to the songs.
“It was quite an international project,” she says. “Frank would smile and be happy that his music got out to the world as he wanted it.”