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The Oxford American’s 22nd Annual 
Southern Music Issue

Guest edited by
BRITTANY HOWARD

 

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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

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December 02, 2016

On view right now at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University is a crucial exhibition for these times. Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art is a necessarily broad group of artwork that takes the South as its subject and approaches it from a wide array of viewpoints.

June 17, 2013

After listening to a leak of J. Cole’s forthcoming sophomore album Born Sinner, I drove two hours during a statewide tornado watch to ask what, if anything, Cole’s ascent means to people back home.

February 01, 2016

Adam Bellefeuil’s series Cross Road examines rural eastern North Carolina, reckoning with the South’s nearly mythological history against its modern place in a global world.

March 08, 2017

Floyd Council’s heart gave out on May 9, 1976: bad cholesterol and, in the end, kidney failure. He was sixty-four. He’s buried outside my hometown of Sanford, North Carolina. If you take Lower Moncure Road east beyond the 421 overpass, you’ll see a few identical grey trailers, a low brick ranch-style house, and a tobacco field, and then the road curves left and the trees close in again. A church used to stand here, and in the long grass between the shoulder and the pines some gravestones are peeking up through the green. Not much remains of the cemetery, and nothing of the chapel, White Oak AME Zion, abandoned for years and finally torn down in 2014. Broke and a widower, Council was buried here without a marker. And now that the grass has grown long and trees have sprouted up, the blues guitarist’s grave is lost.

May 16, 2016

Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which has “an intactness and continuity with its past that was rare and notable.”

October 17, 2019

A review of Scott Avett’s debut museum exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

While Avett is far better-known as a musician than a painter—the Avett Brothers’ new album Closer Than Together just debuted at #28 on the Billboard 200 chart—he does not think of either pursuit as being secondary. Pretty much the same amount of time and effort goes into both.

July 05, 2017

While exploring the built environment of North Carolina beaches, Miller Taylor’s Upon Sand captures the dynamism of the coastline.

August 24, 2017

An installment in our weekly series, The By and By. 

It became impossible for me to jibe the romanticized South with the reality of what that war was actually about, and what it cost. And as I put away childish things, I came to understand that the monuments weren’t there to remind us of history. They were, in fact, its cover-up.

June 20, 2017

In The Sound the Dryfly Makes, Ian Mahathey considers how boyhood aspirations are transformed by adulthood.

July 25, 2017

In Love Valley, Michaela O’Brien chronicles the lives and history of the people living in North Carolina’s “cowboy haven.”