A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue. Before she was Catwoman on the television show Batman in the 1960s, before she spoke out against the Vietnam War and was exiled for it, before her redemption and the… by Latria Graham | Nov, 2019

Track 17 – “My Father Is a Witness, Oh, Bless God” by the Plantation Echoes Established in early 1933, the Plantation Echoes were made up of fifty Gullah field hands who enjoyed singing spirituals, most dating back to slavery. A… by Blain Roberts and Ethan J. Kytle | Nov, 2019

Notes on the songs from our 21st Southern Music Issue Sampler featuring South Carolina. It is fitting that this Southern Music Issue (the Oxford American’s twenty-first) devoted to South Carolina should come in 2019, as the nation moves to better… by Oxford American | Nov, 2019

A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue. A problem solver, Jones would ultimately get his drums from his mother’s record collection, as her Charles Wright and Isaac Hayes albums began migrating into his room. “There wasn’t enough… by Dave Tompkins | Nov, 2019

A feature essay from the South Carolina Music Issue.  Outside of his studies, Ron joined, and eventually presided over, the A&T karate club, and still made time to stay sharp on his saxophone. “People talk about born geniuses, but I… by Jon Kirby | Nov, 2019

A liner note essay from our South Carolina Music Issue We all know that Southern music needs to be heard and celebrated. However, visibility (exposure) cannot be pitted against our chance at a healthy life. The Oxford American’s ask of… by Anjali of Diaspoura | Nov, 2019

A new episode of Points South is now playing!Subscribe today and never miss an episode. Episode Four features the OA editors discussing the upcoming South Carolina Music Issue and sharing their favorite stories and behind-the-scenes moments. Plus: A preview of the issue’s… by Sara A. Lewis | Nov, 2019

We would like to hear from you.  The magazine will begin publishing letters to the editor in the fall issue and going forward. If you would like to respond to a story published in the magazine, we welcome your letter. by Oxford American | Jun, 2019

September 05, 2017

Sketches of Tennessee.

From the time I was about ten years old, my mother and I put in our time by visiting with Irma for an hour or two every day. We’d bring her the Enquirer and Star and try to cheer her up by pointing out the most salacious stories and the home remedies for arthritis. Sometimes she’d enlist me to rub her back, and I’d perch monkeylike on the back of the couch, kneading her knots as she growled, “I could hug yer neck fer that.”

December 15, 2013

In Gus Cannon's music I heard minstrelsy, but I could also hear a novel, legitimate black art form developed from minstrel roots. And not only that.

December 22, 2013

Right after my ninth birthday, Daddy had a tantrum that made him punch a hole in the wall, his right hand break, and his secretary walk out. That made him punch the wall with his left hand and break that one too, and that was how I ended up Daddy's secretary summer before fourth grade. We worked from home, in an office that Little Steve the Child Molester built in exchange for services rendered. The office window looked out into dry yellow field, and on the far side of the field was our cow pond and Daddy's burn pile.

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

In the Tampa exurbs, splashed across the side of a half-occupied strip mall, is a vast mural depicting the Victorian art critic-cum-philosopher-cum-political economist-cum-painter-cum-social reformer John Ruskin. He gazes out at an expanse of concrete and asphalt, most of his jaw coated in white paint to conceal an underlying scrawl of graffiti. It seems like a high-brow joke, to paint one of the nineteenth century’s leading critics of capitalism and industrialization to preside over a hollowed-out commercial landscape of accountants’ offices, pet grooming businesses, and laundromats.

January 06, 2014

Tara’s confession to Charlie Rich, a major country star that year, was among forty-two others I discovered in the home of a woman who produced Rich in the 1960s. Unread for nearly forty years, mixed in with yellowing newspaper clips and old drink coasters from a Las Vegas revue, they were the last known remnants of the Charlie Rich Fan Club. Variously handwritten, typed up, set on stationery and notebook paper, the stash contained the intimate pleas and declarations of fans who sought communion with the star known as “The Silver Fox.”

June 12, 2018

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue. 

Pulled by the pale, stout horses, we listened as he told us the history of the paniolo culture in Hawaii. I sat on the wagon’s bench behind my father as he talked. I sat and listened as if cocooned in that place, that time, enveloped in those clouds of mist that we drifted into and out of, wrapped in one of the wool blankets that my father provided to the tour’s guests. When prompted with questions from the visitors, my father told about himself, his history as a jockey in Tennessee, and how he ended up in Hawaii to work with horses—the first time I learned those things about him. I wasn’t in his story. I tried to work myself into it, but I couldn’t. 

July 22, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

Today we think of the fight for educational equality as being a national story, one involving a progressive Supreme Court, a reluctant president, and a recalcitrant governor in Arkansas, but the struggle was fueled by black parents and teachers and students across the country. It depended upon women like Laura and teachers like Carl and patriarchs like Isaac who labored across generations to reset their children’s future.

April 20, 2015

I don’t know when I first heard the music in my head. I don’t remember not hearing it. Sometimes in the morning it would be the first thing I heard, shutting out the sounds of reality—the traffic outside the window and the people moving around. My mother would sit at the upright piano, playing and singing song after song off old pieces of sheet music from her past. I searched these songs for meaning. Like the cowboy songs of Gene Autry and Red River Dave, each song told a story of a remote place and time.

June 13, 2017

Freshwater bivalves evolved by sending their larvae up rivers in the gills of spawning salmon. Now, like their ocean ancestors, they live out some of the most obscure lives on the planet, clasped in a darkness of their own creation, sometimes for up to a century or more. “Under a firmament of nacre,” wrote the French poet Francis Ponge about the oyster. A firmament, yes, because, like the sky, it is vast and ancient. Because, like the sky, you can get lost in it.

December 01, 2013
There is a remarkable story tucked halfway through Bessie, Chris Albertson’s biography of the blues singer Bessie Smith, in which Smith approaches a circle of robed North Carolina Klansmen, places one hand on her hip, and begins shaking the other in the air. She hollers obscenities at the men until “they finally turned and disappeared quietly into the darkness.” This is the sort of tale that stinks of apocrypha, but is nonetheless a useful encapsulation of Smith’s particular prowess: shouting darkness into darkness.