A feature essay from the Spring 2020 issue. I moved to Texas in 2017 and returned often to Dilley. When I would chat with residents—after a city council meeting, at the nail salon, before a cook-off—they’d ask if I was… by Emily Gogolak | Mar, 2020

A Points South essay from the Spring 2020 issue As sea levels rise, there’s more water than ever coming down the Atchafalaya. Shrimp are being pushed offshore, farther into the Gulf, emptying the bayous that Kermit Duck, Douglas Oleander, and… by Jeanie Riess | Mar, 2020

 A Letter from the Editor, Spring 2020. Over the years, I have come to admire a certain kind of story that the Oxford American, as a quarterly magazine untethered from the demands of a rapid news cycle, is especially well… by Eliza Borné | Mar, 2020

A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue. Lillie’s sound is not readily identifiable as black or white but seems a merger of the two as she effortlessly blends country and blues in a haunting song about family… by Eric Crawford | Nov, 2019

A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue. What I want is to love Southern rock without being implicated in the Old South politics. I want progress but I want it surgical. Take secession and Strom Thurmond, take… by Mark Powell | Nov, 2019

Writers reflect on Charles Portis He was the real thing, but he was modest about it. An awestruck fan meeting him by chance in a Little Rock bar named the Faded Rose gushed at him, praising him as a great… by Oxford American | Feb, 2020

An Omnivore essay from the Spring 2020 issue.  All kinds of rumors followed Mr. Myers around campus, most of which, it turns out, had some basis in fact: that he was a ferocious tennis player who hated to lose; that… by Benjamin Anastas | Mar, 2020

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

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The crumbling Centennial Baptist Church in Helena, Arkansas, has deep roots in the African-American community. But poverty and other concerns in this Delta town have made raising restoration funds difficult—and the effort to keep the church in black hands has sparked tensions with local preservationists.

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.”

A review of Olivia Laing's The Trip to Echo Spring. 

Does liquor inspire and ignite the words of great alcoholic writers? Or do alcoholic scribes produce their work in spite of their addiction? 

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

 

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.