We’re so excited to reveal the cover of our 21st Annual Southern Music Issue! Featuring unforgettable songs and stories from South Carolina, the issue includes voices ranging from the Upstate to the Lowcountry, highlighting icons like Dizzy Gillespie and Eartha Kitt, as well as contemporary artists such as Shovels & Rope and Ranky Tanky.
Our cover star is NASA astronaut Ronald McNair, who became a physics (and music) pioneer when he brought a soprano sax into orbit in 1984. A native of Lake City, South Carolina, McNair died tragically in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster two years later. In a revelatory and thoughtful feature in the issue, Jon Kirby speaks with McNair’s family, friends, and colleagues, who remember him not only as a famous astronaut but also a devoted, one-of-a-kind musician.
To be the first to read this and other stories recognizing South Carolina’s vibrant music scene, pre-order the South Carolina Music Issue & Sampler today. The issue comes packaged with a CD compilation and digital download card.
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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, like something he’d found and was simply leaving for me to deal with. And after a month of this, I realized that I was making fifty extra dollars a week because of this man. I wasn’t attracted to him, but I was fond of him, I guess because he gave me fifty dollars a week for remembering that he liked Heinz 57.
A Louisiana tribe’s long fight against the American tide—feature reportage from the Fall 2019 issue.Today, the island has a spare and haphazard beauty. Almost every day, fishermen stand in clusters along the island road, casting their nets into the ever-widening water. Where the island begins, the road curves left; here, it’s dense with trees before these give way, gradually, and the sky grows wider. On the right side of the road, to the west, runs the bayou, lined with wood-plank bridges that lead to the homes. To the east there is an oil canal, its size becoming apparent as the forest thins.
A feature essay from the Spring 2019 issue.
As in all cities, the story of displacement and discrimination is as old as the municipality’s. And while it might seem like a somewhat ahistorical cheap shot to draw a direct, incriminating line from Spindletop’s boom to the swath of corporations that now dominates Houston and its high-risk neighborhoods, the residue of truth is there. Houston, like every other metropolis, abets the long history of industry-induced subjugation that manifests, visibly and invisibly, as endemic environmental racism. It’s written into the city’s code, embedded from day one in the place’s naïve aspirations of itself.
Paddling to Walter Inglis Anderson’s Horn Island—a feature essay from the Fall 2019 issue.As we paddled, my awareness inverted, a shift in perspective that would continue for the entire journey. Though we were headed south, the world was tilted, and as on Anderson’s map, Horn Island was the North Star.
A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue.
Why was my great-great-grandfather always referred to as “Robert Singleton, the Civil War veteran who lost his leg at Murfreesboro, then went on to become Clerk of the County Court” rather than “Robert Singleton, whose life was saved, twice, by the black man his family had enslaved”? Moreover, what did all of this say about the America Papa so revered?
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 reality called “The Moundverse,” where beastly, beautiful Mounds are often attacked by skeletal, sadistic Vegans. There’s a goddess figure named Undom Endgle, who represents the power of Black women as “bringers of color and light,” and TorpedoBoy, a heroic figure in razor-covered cleats. Hancock employs a constantly shifting aesthetic that suggests he can create literally anything.
A feature essay from the 100th issue.
For Evangelical believers, the most important decision in one’s life—in some ways, the only choice that really matters—occurs abruptly, in the direct presence of God and other people, and then can’t be undone. Salvation is necessarily instantaneous and immutable, fundamentally unlike the glacial back and forth of politics, the way power changes hands and people change sides, all of it somehow both infuriatingly slow and unfathomably small in contrast to the Kingdom of God.
A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue.
I first devoured Robert Gipe’s books and plays because I wanted to understand Appalachia. I was searching for deeper insights than the victim-blaming bootstrap narrative espoused in J. D. Vance’s best-selling book, Hillbilly Elegy—and where else but one of Gipe’s plays would you see convicted felons on a stage, acting right beside probation officers, teachers, and recovery coaches, all of them already bonded in their mutual need to talk about the hard problems around them?
We both loved Gary Stewart, and we both loved Grace.
My wife Grace’s father was a big man. He wasn’t much more than six feet tall, but I think folks thought of him as taller because he carried himself large. He tried being a hippie once, he said, but couldn’t abide the non-violence (too many people needed to get their asses kicked). At the first job he ever had, on a ranch, he got a business card with his official title: COWBOY. He kept that card. He wore a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. He had the best hunting dogs in Levy County. For a while he ran a sawmill. For a while he was a watermelon farmer, then a beekeeper, then he raised buffalo on the family farm. That’s just a small sampling. His name was John. He went by Chuck.