This year we’ve compiled our “greatest hits,” including selections of the most beloved music writing from our archive—guest edited by Brittany Howard, the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and frontwoman of the Alabama Shakes. This jam-packed issue also includes new essays on iconic Southern artists who have changed the trajectory of American music.
Rather than including a CD this year, we’ve asked guest contributors to curate a selection of playlists that limn the bounty of Southern music across genres. These are available to stream on Spotify.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on all things OA.
In 1913, the murder of Little Mary Phagan rocked the people of Atlanta, Georgia, setting in motion a series of events that involved a botched and terribly obfuscated trial; a tinder box of xenophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, and “white rights”; and another murder. “Fiddlin’ John” Carson set it all to music.
A Points South profile from the Summer 2018 issue
There was no telling how long the stoplight at the base of the 8th Street hill would stay green when Grant Taylor began bombing toward it. He was in a low crouch, muscling his skateboard against the blacktop, popping ollies and carving tight S curves down the center stripe of one of midtown Atlanta’s steepest streets. With each push of his left leg, exponentially more asphalt roared past him.
Notes on the manuscript containing James Dickey’s essay “The Kingdom of the Other.”
Dickey was terrified of living an unexamined life, and he employed this technique, the imagining of the Other—the beings and places which were remote from his own biographical self—as a necessity to fuel creation, both in his writing and personal life.
I don’t know if the term “Cosmic Southerner” is something I came up with or if I read it somewhere or heard someone say it, but it’s an idea I’ve carried with me for a long time. Pharoah Sanders, André 3000, and Benjamin from the band Smoke are true Cosmic Southerners. Atlanta’s Col. Bruce Hampton is another.
At forty-three, Rico Wade’s still got something to prove. Most people with music industry aspirations find a way to build a business. Rico built a family instead. Then he discovered why family and business rarely mix. But when your past is OutKast and your present is a rapper named Future, it ain’t over till the last ATLien sings.
Twelve years ago, the historical reissue label Dust-to-Digital released a six-disc masterpiece of early spiritual recordings called Goodbye, Babylon. Lance Ledbetter, who runs the Atlanta record company with his wife, April, is working on another project that will match Goodbye, Babylon in size and scope. That is, if they can finish it.
An essay from the Place Issue
Today, I venture proudly and safely into the straight world outside the confines of bars and clubs once designated specifically as “gay” spaces. I can be free. This wouldn’t have been the case a generation ago. Within my lifetime, queer behavior has put people in jail, in exile, and in danger. For many who faced their truth in the decade before Stonewall, often the only safe choice was to leave the small towns where they were shamed and muted and to run away to cities—though even in Atlanta, a town with well over a half million people in 1960, the year Frank arrived, gay bars were dangerous and illicit places.
A Points South essay from the Place Issue
As of today’s journey, our family has been in quarantine for more than a hundred days. Summer camp plans have fallen by the wayside, much like those color-coded home-school schedules parents passed around at the top of the pandemic. In their place are daily, valiant, sometimes pitiful, efforts to educate our kid, get our work done, love each other, and stay alive. The shelter-in-place sameness was beginning to feel a little like Groundhog Day—that is until late winter, early spring when death came in threes.