Originally published in our Tennessee Music Issue  There is a remarkable story tucked halfway through Bessie, Chris Albertson’s biography of the blues singer Bessie Smith, in which Smith approaches a circle of robed North Carolina Klansmen, places one hand on her hip,… by Amanda Petrusich | Nov, 2020

Playlists curated by your favorite musicians and writers. by Brittany Howard, Kiese Laymon, Rosanne Cash, Kelsey Waldon, & others | Nov, 2020

An introduction to the Music Issue’s Icons Section Beyond my eye, beyond the death and decay of matters left behind and unsettled, the music ringing up above my head told a thousand stories of bounty and belonging, and it glimmered… by Danielle A. Jackson | Nov, 2020

Originally published in our 2007 Music Issue  In a remarkable 1963 appearance with Juilliard professor and friend, Hall Overton, at the New School in New York, Monk demonstrated his technique of “bending” or “curving” notes on the piano, the most… by Sam Stephenson | Nov, 2020

Originally published in our North Carolina Music Issue.  I wanted to start with the wild weeds and the creaking wood on the front porch, walking up to Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina. I wanted to start where… by Tiana Clark | Nov, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue The first songs that I listened to by Talibah Safiya had this soft, sweet, plaintive quality. There is something else underneath if you listen a bit closer: a little loneliness. The knowledge… by Jamey Hatley | Nov, 2020

An introduction to the Greatest Hits Music Issue How does the South inform my music? How do I describe the sound that your bare feet make when they pat the cool, packed red dust under them? How do I describe… by Brittany Howard | Oct, 2020

 A Letter from the Editor, Food Issue. Quiet as it is kept, and widely as it has become forgotten, those who do the cooking and the farming know that those who only eat what is cooked for them and served… by Alice Randall | Mar, 2021

In Alabama, some black farmers maintain a collective strength.

The writer makes four points about the singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt: “He was a person who had lost the use of his legs, the enjoyment of his own body, and the first line of the first song from his first record is, “I dreamed I was a’ dancin’,” and he was so good, you don’t notice.”

"Other People, the most recent album by the breakthrough Little Rock band American Princes, suggests another possibility. What if it’s not rock that’s repeating itself, but history? One of the oddities about growing up in the Nineties was hearing how awful the Eighties were—two recessions, the victory of movement conservatism, the threat of thermonuclear war—and fearing that we pampered post–Cold War children would never escape a diminished, if happier, age."

The story of True Soul, an independent record label from Little Rock, Arkansas, and its founder, Lee Anthony: "From the outset, True Soul had been an experiment. Rather than standing by while local talent fled to the nearby city of Memphis, the hotbed of Southern soul, Lee Anthony decided to start his own label in Little Rock, the capital of his home state, to tap into the city’s rich offerings of gospel, soul, and funk and put Little Rock’s long-overlooked music scene on the map."

"Blessed with a helplessly big voice, Kenni Huskey began performing at age seven on the Memphis program Country Shindig in 1962, singing with local country and rockabilly stalwart Eddie Bond. For her first taping, she was too tiny to reach the microphone, and Eddie stacked two wooden Coca-Cola crates so her little face could reach it."

In 2009, the OA asked 134 judges what they considered to be the best Southern books of all time. They came up with a list for fiction and nonfiction, choosing from more than five hundred titles. This is the underdogs list, the books that didn't make the cut for "best" but are more than worth adding to your bookshelves.

Why has Barry Hannah—though considered by many writers and scholars to be the current Great One of Southern Letters (and most would drop the modifiers “current” and “Southern”)—continued to fall under that lackluster rubric, the Writer’s Writer?

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial does not move us to think about the creative spirit so much as it moves us to think about everyday life. Cleave it from its ties to literary celebrity and it becomes replete in and of itself: Come see how, in a certain place at a certain time, some people lived, and some made a living.

"Rereading the novel on my own the summer before teaching it, I was stunned once more by its complexity. Absalom is not an easy read, and it resists casual intimacy. Sentences swell and loop, wind-ing into rhetorical knots. Narrators speculate, are ignorant, or just plain lie. Faulkner himself rarely appears, and he never brings answers. Sixteen-year-olds, I knew—even the most clever ones—tend to read in anticipation of Aesopian morality, a thematic deus ex machina, and Faulkner simply doesn’t provide one."

In 2009, the Oxford American polled a group of 134 judges for what they considered to be the best Southern Literature of all time. This list is their verdict on the region's best nonfiction.