A Writing on Writing essay from the 100th issue. Pearl taught me to be a loving teller of the truth. This is the basis for my work as a writer and as a human being. If you are a person… by Tayari Jones | Mar, 2018

A Writing on Writing essay from the 100th issue. I found myself in Jones’s writing. Kentucky. Black. Rural. Woman. I was especially taken with how she drew characters from the oral storytelling tradition and then broadened that form into her… by Crystal Wilkinson | Mar, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue. In chronicling the civil rights movement, one inevitably develops an interest in how racial crimes are remembered in the community where they happened—in the way they gradually turn into folklore—and in Memphis,… by Benjamin Hedin | Mar, 2018

A feature short story from the 100th issue. When the real estate agent first drove us up the gravel driveway, I felt I’d been to this place before. I wasn’t sure at first, for I’d first been there at night.… by Randall Kenan | Mar, 2018

A Points South story from the 100th issue. In public, she wore head wraps so tight they gave her headaches. Nevertheless, at some point, the hissing caused people to stop what they were doing and squint all around, in search… by Tania James | Mar, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue.  “For more than three decades this maddening story of Evers’s murder and the question of Beckwith’s guilt or innocence has been told again and again, in conflicting voices and varying contexts, with… by Alan Huffman | Mar, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue. If the earth is wet enough and acidic enough, the first thing you’ll find when you start digging up a grave is a coffin-shaped halo in the ground. That’s the mark left… by Christopher Cox | Mar, 2018

A Points South story from the 100th issue. First off, let me tell you that if you hold a rat snake in your lap and cup your hand around him and let him move along through your cupped hand you… by Clyde Edgerton | Mar, 2018

A feature essay from the 100th issue. From across the broad and whitecapped Indian River, the Kennedy Space Center looks like two tiny Lego sets in the distant vegetation. The palms here are windswept, the oaks are scrubby. Pelicans bob… by Lauren Groff | Mar, 2018

 A Letter from the Editor, Spring 2018. This issue is packed with other luminaries: Nikki Giovanni, Lolis Eric Elie, and Wendell Berry express the tenderness of our closest relationships. Randall Kenan and Thomas Pierce, contemporary masters of Southern fiction, offer… by Eliza Borné | Mar, 2018

Poems from the Spring 2018 issue. One white anemone,the year’s first flower,saves the world. by Wendell Berry | Mar, 2018

November 16, 2016

You can argue endlessly about whether it’s Elvis, W. C. Handy, Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis, Rufus Thomas, Sam Phillips, Dewey Phillips, or Justin Timberlake who best defines Memphis music. I’m going with Jim Dickinson. 

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 27, 2013

On the afternoon of April 9, 1987, a man stood outside the United States penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. He had been convicted of one count of willful failure to file an income tax return and sentenced to a year in prison. His orders from the court were to surrender himself to the institution before April 10. While an accomplice rolled videotape, the man outside the prison, who was both a literalist and something of a showman, held up the day’s newspaper and announced: “I surrender to the institution!”

December 27, 2013

Country music in the 1970s of my adolescence was music for the hopelessly uncool. It was Saturday afternoon television with Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, outlandish in their rhinestones, extolling the virtues of their sponsor, Breeze detergent. It was “Okie from Muskogee,” Merle Haggard’s 1969 hit denouncing drugs, war protesters, and long hair. Country was Hee Haw, and what the football coach who taught Driver’s Ed—he of the short haircut, white polyester shirts, and fierce Texas twang—made us listen to when we drove with him, because it soothed his nerves. 

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, on the other hand, was a country-rock group from Southern California, “a bunch of long-haired West Coast boys,” as country patriarch Roy Acuff called them. But in August 1971 they made their way to Nashville, a little tentatively, to record the album Will the Circle Be Unbroken, a collaboration with an unlikely gathering of old-time country stars that instantly achieved classic status and has never gone out of print.

December 27, 2013

A conversation with Jean Shepard, Jan Howard, Jeanne Pruett, and Jeannie Seely from Winter 2013, the Tennessee Music Issue. 

One of my most cherished memories is with Minnie, just after her first breast surgery. She’d had surgery on Monday and she called me on Friday.  She said, “What are you doing on Monday?” I said, “I don’t know, what are we doing?” She said, “Well, the doctor says I can’t drive but I can eat, so why don’t you pick me up and we’ll go to lunch at the club?” So I get to her house at 11 A.M., and for some reason that day she wanted to show me certain things about her house. She walked me through, telling me stories about everything. It was the greatest three hours that I’ve ever spent with someone who wasn’t family, but it was not with Minnie Pearl, it was with Sarah Ophelia Cannon.

December 27, 2013

A story from Winter 2013, the Tennessee Music Issue.

She is a music student, slender, youthful, with the concentrated face of an alto in the chorus or a back-row violinist, frowning at her strings. Tonight, wearing black (de rigueur for her profession), she sits in a chair to the left of and slightly behind the pianist. She is invisible.

 

December 27, 2013

When I was a kid in 1970s Memphis, limousines were a rare sight, though two would occasionally appear in traffic. From the backseat of our family station wagon, we’d scream for Mother to pull up closer. We’d know whose it was by the license plate. Elvis Presley’s was not customized. Isaac Hayes’s read MOSES, referring to his nickname, Black Moses. He was leading people to the Promised Land.

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.

November 01, 2013

In the early 1960s, the Staple Singers marched with their gospel rhythms and church-house fervor into the arena of civil rights–inspired folksong. Some saw this as a straying from the one true way, a betrayal even. For the Staples, it was a seamless progression, a greater embracing of all creation. And so it was that a like-minded admirer came by one day to introduce them to a scruffy young songwriter from northern Minnesota.

January 02, 2014

If you’re good enough to back somebody up or play in the recording studio, then Nashville is the town for you. That’s not enough, though. Everybody plays and sings great; that’s a given. But you get jobs because you’re a good hang, relaxed and easy to deal with.