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.
Order the South Carolina Music Issue & Sampler today. The issue comes packaged with a CD compilation and digital download card.
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In many ways, I blame rock & roll for what happened. I discovered this unholy music in boyhood, when my Uncle Mike died an untimely death at age twenty-eight. My grandmother gave all his 8-tracks to me, music I’d never heard before: Rush, Bowie, Little Feat, Eat a Peach. The eighties pop dished out by FM radio was candied and glittering and great fun, sure, but this older music was dark and gas-powered, all fire and gravel.
A video supplement to “Oaxaca Wreck” by John T. Edge, published in the Spring 2019 issue.
“When I moved to Mississippi in 1995, I became a quick regular at Bottletree Bakery, just off the square, across from the church that my family would subsequently join. At that low counter, with a thick china mug in hand, I ate scones pocked with crystallized nuggets of ginger and pored over grad school texts. I befriended the charming misfits and dreamers who poured refills and stared at their shoes and beamed guileless smiles. And then I quit the place. Because I got jaded. Because I got busy.”
—John T. Edge, “Oaxaca Wreck”
An Omnivore essay from the 100th issue.
In the coming skirmishes over the legitimacy of color photography, the image would take on a great symbolic significance. This minor, inexplicable moment—in which a photographer had pondered a light bulb in the Mississippi Delta—would come to be understood as a shot across the bow of art-world atrophy.
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.
In memory of T-Model Ford.
Though they started slow and sparse, Ford’s songs revved up quickly, clattering along like a procession of old Cadillacs, their motors jimmied together with wire hangers, the rhythms more beautiful for their brokenness.
Early in 2014, Lewis Hyde, the author of The Gift, came to Jackson, Mississippi, to visit with others who volunteered to spend a handful of months in 1964 teaching and canvassing in the most violent province of Dixie. This was not like most reunions, for people at such events don’t normally talk about the first time they suffered police harassment or were tailed by the Klan, and they don’t screen a movie that was recently made about their experience and then discuss the ways in which the film felt authentic or not.
A story by Jesmyn Ward, the second of three excerpts from her forthcoming novel Sing, Unburied, Sing.
Because I wanted Michael’s mouth on me, because from the first moment I saw him walking across the grass to where I sat in the shadow of the school sign, he saw me. Saw past skin the color of unmilked coffee, eyes black, lips the color of plums, and saw me. Saw the walking wound I was, and came to be my balm.