2017 06 28 kentucy Lavalette
Photo by Shane Lavalette

19th Annual
Southern Music Issue & CD
featuring KENTUCKY

From 2009 until 2015, our music issue featured a different Southern state every year (raise your hand if you’ve got them all: Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia).
Last year, we departed from the series to examine “Visions of the Blues.

In 2017, we are returning to the state series. And we are thrilled to announce that it’s your turn, Kentucky.

The Commonwealth gave us musicians like Loretta Lynn and Nappy Roots, Richard Hell and Bill Monroe—just to name a very few—and beloved writers like Crystal Wilkinson, Ronni Lundy, Silas House, and our own poetry editor, Rebecca Gayle Howell. This is just a taste of Kentucky and a taste of what’s to come.

We invite you to come back for more reading—and listening—in November.

In the meantime: What Kentucky song or story should we feature in the issue? Drop us a line with your ideas. 

As always, the issue will come packaged with a CD of songs, with liner notes in the magazine.

On newsstands November 21, 2017 — pre-order your copy here.

The issue will mail to subscribers on November 7, 2017 — subscribe today.

 

Jazz owes its origins to the bump and grind of turn-of-the-century brothels and the colored waif orphanages of the South’s great cities, but where is the wellspring of swing? Swing, children, begins with Fletcher Henderson, one of the great big band leaders for the ages.

Little Richard, now eighty-two years old, has reportedly been living the last several years in a penthouse suite at the Hilton hotel in downtown Nashville (the Hilton will neither confirm nor deny that they have a guest named Mr. Penniman). I knew someone who knew someone who had his cell phone number, and in June, I cold-called him.

George Mitchell’s recordings and photographs of the blues music and culture of Georgia’s Lower Chattahoochee Valley document a once-thriving American musical tradition drawing its last defiant breath.

Grandmama’s stank was root and residue of black Southern poverty, and devalued black Southern labor, black Southern excellence, black Southern imagination, and black Southern woman magic. This was the stank from whence black Southern life, love, and labor came. I didn’t fully understand or feel inspired by Grandmama’s stank or freshness until I heard the albums ATLiens and Aquemini from those Georgia-based artists called OutKast.

Our methodology: if you can’t include everything, make sure everything you include is masterful.

“Midnight,” as performed by Futurebirds—track 24 on the Oxford American’s Georgia Music Issue CD—is not just a melding of eras and genres. It also displays an intersection of geography, as Georgia’s southwest region meets the Futurebirds’ base of Athens in the northeast.

From the country blues to early jazz to gospel, soul, metal, rock & roll, hip-hop, and beyond—there isn’t a corner of American music the people of this state haven’t made their own.

“They all seemed together by ear,” according to Nancy Blake. “It was the first time I’d ever seen hillbilly string musicians hit that Charles Mingus headspace. I knew there was music coming into the world that had never been in it before.”