Black Southern Women

By Hanif Abdurraqib

Issue 111, Winter 2020

November 11, 2020

Illustration by Three Ring Studio

The erasure of Black people from the history and origins of American music is work that has been in progress for well over a century. If you look closer, you might notice Black women, in particular, being obscured from the roots of blues, gospel, soul, and rock music.

Even though I grew up in the Midwest with two parents who were born on the east coast, the women included in this list are women I heard in my home. I have spent a lot of time making small sonic maps: how to get from Memphis Minnie to Mahalia to Aretha. Once you get to Aretha, there's a whole world that opens up. This is a small playlist, but in it, I wanted to show an example of those maps, of a lineage that continues with artists like Adia Victoria and the punk band Special interest. Black women who have carried on the sonic and storytelling traditions of those who laid a foundation before them.

Hanif Abdurraqib

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio.