Thirty-five years ago, a group of local musicians calling themselves Artists United for Wilmington got together to record a song titled “Call This Place Home.”
Inspired by the 1985 hit “We Are the World,” which was recorded by the biggest pop stars of the day under the banner of U.S.A. for Africa, “Call This Place Home” was released in 1986 as a 7-inch vinyl record to benefit the children’s floor of what was then called New Hanover Memorial Hospital.
“There was the song and there was the venue that was very supportive and the people that were there,” said Brad Thomas, who spearheaded the project. “We were young.”
The project highlighted the talent of a Wilmington music community that was much smaller at a time when it was costlier and more difficult to produce music. Ultimately, Thomas pressed a thousand copies that didn’t sell well, even at just $2 per record with 50 cents of each sale earmarked for the hospital.
I first spoke to Thomas in 2014 as part of a planned 30th anniversary story that ultimately never happened. He was working in California as a lecturer and an alcohol and drug counselor while also pursuing a his PhD.
He recalls writing the song at 414 N. Kerr Ave., where he lived at the time, on a hot summer day with a broken heart and a bottle of vodka. Originally from Cleveland, Thomas moved here in 1980, when parts of South College Road were just becoming four lanes.
Written in just one day, “Call This Place Home” is a love letter to living in Wilmington.