A feature from the Spring 2019 issue.  Hancock’s art, which includes paintings, fabricated toys, a theatrical performance, and a graphic novel, defies categorization and pulses with an almost religious intensity. Much of his work has followed the denizens of his alternate… by Trenton Doyle Hancock and Maurice Carlos Ruffin | Mar, 2019

 A Letter from the Editor, Summer 2019. At the Oxford American, we receive many pitches for stories in the category of “pilgrimages,” or “literary road trips,” or “retracing X’s steps.” I understand the appeal: the traveler can see with her… by Eliza Borné | Jun, 2019

A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue As an evangelist, I have showed “Miracles” to many people by lying about what it’s actually about. Generally, I describe it as a sort of joke, a curiosity. I don’t tell… by Jacob Rosenberg | Jun, 2019

An installment in John T. Edge’s Points South column, Local Fare. Calamity and travel arrest time. They beg focus and feed insights. Tourism has taken on some of the functions that religion once served. Here in America, we have ritualized restaurant… by John T. Edge | Mar, 2019

A Points South essay from the Spring 2019 issue Like many other locals, I had never valued the glades. I had never learned to see past the scraggly trees and the rocky fields. A chance Google search one day told… by Rachel Louise Martin | Mar, 2019

A featured short story from the Spring 2019 issue. I understood that he had a crush on me, because there is no service that deserves a greater-than-one-hundred-percent gratuity, but the money seemed harmless when it came out of his wallet,… by Kevin Wilson | Mar, 2019

A Points South essay from the Spring 2019 issue I hesitated at the sight of the banner so close to my home and was suddenly wary. Weary. I saw the flag and without thinking thought it code: Patriot. MAGA. Make… by Karen Good Marable | Mar, 2019

An Omnivore essay from the Spring 2019 issue.  Due to his health, Leon Redbone can no longer be interviewed. In a way, he’s become a version of the old-time musicians he so admired, about whom little is known: You can… by Megan Pugh | Mar, 2019

November 20, 2018

A feature essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.

Perverse? Yes. Blasphemous? Maybe. But not irreconcilable. To contemplate the meaning of Jodeci is to grasp at the intersection of religion and excess, of devotion and abandon, of agape and eros—a space where holiness and hedonism coincide. Sacred and erotic poetry, after all, are not dichotomous, but rather the most intimate and ancient of bedfellows, from Sufi mysticism to Ovidian elegy. The meme may be “If the Love Doesn’t Feel Like ’90s R&B I Don’t Want It,” but literary history knows that Jodeci’s ars amatoria continues a millennia-old poetic program that welds the object of affection to something of the divine, a slippage between the beloved and the god, which the poet-scholar L. Lamar Wilson describes as “sacrilegion,” a never-ending hunger for the unattainable object of erotic perfection. 

September 04, 2018

A Points South story from the Fall 2018 issue

“I just have this fear every day that somewhere there’s another load going to the landfill of the only known copy of something that helped change American music,” Darden told me. So he started the Restoration Project, which aims to “collect, digitize, and archive” all of the recordings available from “gospel’s golden age,” roughly 1945–1975. Because there is no reliable discography of extant gospel recordings (creating one is another ambition of Darden’s), Darden and other scholars have trouble even estimating how many songs that may turn out to be.

May 10, 2017

A new song and a Mother’s Day prayer from Mississippi gospel trio the Como Mamas. 

Mom was there all the time!
When you were whining,
When you were upset.
At night, when you couldn’t sleep,
She’d come in and pray with you.
She’d come in and maybe read you a word.
She’d come in and sing you a song.

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.

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.

December 18, 2013

One Sunday night a month, around 8:30 P.M., or whenever the long, narrow, art-bedecked space of Canvas Lounge finally fills with revelers, the strains of “Let There Be Praise,” sung by Sandi Patty, the ’80s- and early ’90s-ruling inspirational star with two first names, come through the P.A. With the final perky, theatrical note still ringing in the air, the bar’s proprietor, playing the part of Pastor Peter in plaid polyester shorts hiked up to his ribcage and anchored there by a wide white belt, grabs a microphone from the deejay booth and introduces the Dickson Chicks: Marlene, Carlene, and Darlene.