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

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue She traveled the world and left it scorched with her fearlessness and musical originality, inspired fierce devotion from an audience who thrilled to her enormous gifts and her personal excesses, and shook… by Rosanne Cash | Nov, 2020

Originally published in our Georgia Music Issue 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… by Kiese Laymon | Nov, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue Great Black music is that which isn’t trying to impress or entreat or even necessarily communicate with a white audience—or any audience. Instead, great Black music works to retrieve what Rahsaan Roland… by Harmony Holiday | Nov, 2020

Poachers are among a small group that have actually seen the flytrap in the wild, and Officer Gorchess thinks they know what they’re talking about. “The guys who actually take them probably know more about flytraps than ninety-nine percent of… by Joe Purtell. Photographs by Nina Riggio | Nov, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue There was a moment in 1958 when the future of jazz took an extraordinary turn that would be imperceptible to the world for another quarter century. That’s when Ellis Marsalis Jr., freshly… by Gwen Thompkins | 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

November 20, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.

The songs I heard growing up, sung at family gatherings, and later as I documented music in recordings at Lumbee churches, ring with longing and sometimes nostalgia. They were standard Protestant hymns, Southern gospel tunes, or shape-note classics, straight from the Broadman hymnal or from J. D. Sumner or the Gaither family: “I Feel Like Traveling Home,” “Hard Working Pilgrim,” “I Am His,” dozens more. The talented ones in my family often learned them not by reading the music but playing by ear, molding and adapting the arrangement and harmonies to suit our preference. Not so much the songs themselves, but the way we sing, especially the emphasis on harmony and blend—the need for every person to have a part but no one to stand out—is what demonstrates our togetherness and uniqueness. 

October 27, 2016

A poem from the Fall 2016 issue.

I’ve seen enough of your creation, Lord,
its absurd conceits, the sins of idle men
ripened to gnashing teeth.
November 02, 2016

A story by Claudia Perry from the 2013 Tennessee Music Issue. 

felt a little weary of Jesus as we traveled. Although my voice was womanly, I was still a girl of fourteen years. It was not that my belief wavered, but I grew tired of being in strange surroundings. I did find beauty in the green hills of Scotland and the waters of Holland. The travel on steamships was also exciting. And when we sang, many of my cares melted away.

April 16, 2016

Thick with sludgy green water and mud, the pond was a rundown neighbor to the white bungalow next door. But Pastor Jerel Keene, whose Louisiana Church congregation uses the bungalow as an office, envisioned a mission for the land the pond occupied, so he hired someone to dump red clay into the water and waited four years for it to settle like cement. He planted grass to reclaim the earth it became.

April 04, 2016

A story from our spring 2013 issue.

You see the painter standing outside the book store, smoking, one hand shoved into the pocket of his jeans, a hooded sweatshirt giving him the squat, neckless look of a bodybuilder. But you know, from the opening/reading the night before—he wore a short-sleeved, double-pocketed shirt like the one your father used to wear bowling—that his arms are thin, muscle tone soft. Four months later, when he sends you a picture of himself naked, six muscle-pounds heavier, leaning back in his office chair to better display (you assume) the newly articulate abdominal lines, you will tell him you remember noticing, that first night, the paunch of his stomach beneath the bowling shirt.

December 31, 2014

With eight kids to feed, and making everything from scratch, Mamie McCrary didn’t have time to negotiate supper. So to anything her picky eaters might refuse—pinto beans, black-eyed peas, lima beans—she added a spoonful or two of sugar. Almost fifty years later, whenever her four daughters sit down to eat, sugar bowls come out, adding some sweetness to lives that have seen more than enough hard times.

The sisters—Ann, Regina, Alfreda, and Deborah—continue an even sweeter McCrary tradition, blending their voices in the sanctified harmony that’s their birthright as daughters of Rev. Sam McCrary, one of the key members of Nashville gospel greats the Fairfield Four.

December 31, 2014

A poem from the Winter 2013 issue.

Veronica is lovely. She wipes the dust from Christ’s face in the carving
beside Simon, though she is never mentioned in the Gospels.

April 26, 2017

Michael Shewmaker’s exceptional debut hinges on the need not to resolve form but to further open it, a puzzle, a question, as though the very act of questioning keeps him in balance.

October 24, 2016

Rylan Steele’s Ave Maria is an investigation of the 5000-acre unincorporated town that goes by the same name. Founded in South Florida by pizza mogul Tom Monaghan, Ave Maria was built in 2005 and marketed as a utopia for strict Catholics to retirees and young families alike.