The Island of Ocracoke is the southernmost point of the Outer Banks. It can only be accessed by boat, ferry or small plane, and it’s the first area evacuated during a tropical storm.
For those reasons, some OBX visitors skip the trek — but it is for those very reasons, singer-songwriter Jamie Trent decided to pay homage to this 16-mile long unspoiled Outer Banks gem in new song.
“For me, this is as close to heaven as you can get,” says Trent, who co-wrote “Destination Ocracoke” with David Kent. “I can honestly say in all my years of being here, the peacefulness, the seclusion, the lack of tourists, that’s what I am about. I fell in love with it.”
Trent has been coming to the Outer Banks from his home in Virginia since he was 5, when his extended family would rent out a beach house for their vacation.
“My parents would say, ‘Go learn about the area. Have fun. Go fish. We’ll see you at dinnertime,’” he says. “That allowed me to get a much deeper appreciation of the area at a young age.”
He used that familiarity to write a love ballad titled “The Outer Banks and You,” an anniversary gift for his wife Tammy. The song struck a chord with Southern Shores Realty, which also was the realty company through which Trent’s family always rented their vacation spot. Even more meaningful, Trent says, is when a listener contacted him to let him know that she’d “sobbed like a baby” when she first heard it.
He says the woman had emailed him to tell him that her husband had died in 2009, and she’d spread his ashes off the coast at Hatteras — their “slice of heaven on earth, their sanctuary, their bliss.”
“This isn’t a career,” he says. “Yes, I made a few bucks here and there writing songs, but I spent lot more than I made. To have one person tell me something like that, then my job is done.”
The Outer Banks has always served as inspiration for Trent, and his guitar is one of the first things he packs when he’s OBX bound — and it was during an Ocracoke getaway last August that the seeds for “Destination Ocracoke” were planted
“I started noticing and taking notes of scenes while I was there,” he says. I saw a seabird perching, and that made it into the song.”
Trent says he loves Ocracoke the way it is — which is a snapshot of heaven, 18 miles off the North Carolina coast — and, perhaps selfishly, he hopes it remains that way forever.
“I love for people to go visit, but not in droves that could kill the uniqueness of it,” he says, adding the audience who relates to the island’s unvarnished allure as he does, “is who I am looking to connect with.”