Our History

The year was 2007. White Horse Black Mountain founders Kim Hughes and Bob Hinkle had a vision; a room filled with good people enjoying good music in a relaxed and welcoming environment. The focus would be on the music and the connection between artists and audience. They envisioned a place where all types of music would be celebrated and where people could feel at home.

A year later, in November of 2008, White Horse Black Mountain opened its doors to the public. For over fifteen years, White Horse has fulfilled its vision as a gathering place for the celebration of music, the performing arts and building community connections.

Bob Hinkle was a native of Asheville, NC and Kim Hughes was a native of Normal, IL. Both grew up in small towns and embarked on careers in music. Both ended up in New York City where they met and married. Kim was an opera singer appearing in various productions and Bob… well… Bob’s career is extensive (CLICK HERE to learn more about Bob). After long careers in the music and entertainment industry in New York, they decided it was time to leave the city. Kim had never visited Bob’s home in the mountains of Western North Carolina, so they took a vacation down to Black Mountain.

Soon after their arrival they began meeting various people around town. They found that the people were as charming as the town itself. One of the people they met was the director of the local Chamber of Commerce, Bob McMurray.

As they talked and McMurray learned more about their musical backgrounds, his own wheels began turning. McMurray loved music and as Director of the Chamber of Commerce he knew that music was an important part of the local economy.

In April, McMurray contacted Bob and Kim. He led them to a large brick building near the corner of State Street and Montreat Road in the center of town. In past decades, the building had served as the Chevrolet dealership. In fact, it was the former home of McMurray Chevrolet which was founded and operated by Bob McMurray’s own father. The McMurray descendants now owned the building and it was being used for storage.  The grease pits from the repair shop were still there.

As they walked through the door of the building the first time, they immediately noticed the exquisite natural acoustics resulting from the high curved wood ceiling. Bob and Kim sensed the potential to transform this building into something which could make a positive impact in the community. As they walked throughout the room the vision of a music and event center began to crystallize.

One of the most frequently asked questions about White Horse Black Mountain is the origin of the name. Kim was a regular meditator. Soon after they moved to Black Mountain, Kim had a vision while meditating. In the vision, she heard and saw the phrase “White Horse / Black Mountain”. She asked Bob what he thought the vision might mean, he replied that he didn’t know but thought they should keep their eyes open.

When McMurray first showed them the building and they heard the natural acoustic properties, they turned and a crinkled poster of white horses hung on the inside of the garage door. They kept the crinkled poster and a friend flattened it out and attached it to a wooden background. The original poster of the White Horse now hangs on our walls.

Bob and Kim began work scrubbing, cleaning and painting. The transformation of the former Chevy Service Department into a music venue was a true community endeavor. Bob and Kim spoke with various community groups about the vision. They met with numerous individuals to discuss the possibilities. Members of the community pitched in with the cleaning efforts and some contributed funds to help get White Horse off the ground. Bob has since claimed that “It felt like an old-fashioned community barn-raising.”

In the midst of the construction process, other changes were taking place, changes in our country’s economy. The recession of 2008 was one of the most challenging times in our country since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It was far from an ideal time to be opening a new business. By the fall of 2008 the transformation of the building from a garage to a music venue was almost complete.

On November 2nd of 2008, White Horse Black Mountain opened its doors. It had been a long battle but the vision of White Horse Black Mountain became a reality at last. Opening night featured a concert by the bluegrass band, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge. The house was packed and it was quite a celebration. Other performers during the opening month included: Blueground Undergrass, County Farm, Mike Cross, and Bob Margolin.

The first four years of operation were both rewarding and challenging given the economic climate. Bob and Kim ventured forward against the odds with grit and determination. White Horse Black Mountain gradually developed a unique identity as a true “listening room”, a place where people could come to enjoy quality performances in a relaxed environment. Unlike many regional venues, White Horse audiences found a place where the music was cherished and honored.

Diversity and Quality of Programming
…..continue to be the defining characteristics of White Horse

White Horse continues to feature a distinctly diverse mix of live entertainment including Classical Music, Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Songwriters, Native American performers, poetry, storytelling, and more. Our 16 foot wide screen and high definition digital projector provide opportunities to show documentary films and other video content. As White Horse enters its second decade of operation, it continues to bring in top quality entertainment. Our identity as a true listening room continues to draw the approval of our audiences and our performing artists.