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Subjects: Music


Snapshot: Dark Corners

The Appalachian Murder Ballad

by Julyan Davis

“I grew up listening to the folks songs of my ancestors along the Scottish Borders.” I grew up listening to the folk songs of my ancestors along the Scottish Borders. When I left London for America, I discovered the songs again, preserved intact in the Appalachian South. Even as a child, I was drawn to »


“The blues look like me”

by Leroy F. Moore Jr., Charles L. Hughes

“Krip-Hop really stems from our ancestors, saying that we’ve been here and that hip-hop artists with disabilities matter. We’ve been here since the blues, [since] jazz.” Leroy F. Moore Jr. has long stood at the intersection of disability arts, advocacy, and activism over a wide-ranging and influential career. He cofounded (with Keith Jones) the Krip-Hop »


“Up on Cripple Creek”

Limb Loss, Difference, and Disability Spectacle in Southern Roots Music

by Simon Buck

Summer 1964. Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. Jim Scancarelli, staff member at local radio and television station WBT, spots “Uncle” Frank Rayborn sitting with his banjo on a poplar-wood chair on the sidewalk of South Tryon Street. He rushes to his office to grab a tape recorder. For this banjoist is truly unique: he only has »


Speech Melody

An Interview with Sorrel Hays

by Julia Brock, Jennifer Sutton

In the mid-1970s, Sorrell Hays, a composer of electronic music, took her synthesizers, sound equipment, and contact mics to Dougherty County, Georgia. She was there to introduce children in newly desegregated classrooms to experimental forms of music-making. For Hays (1941–2020), it was a return to the South after almost two decades away and a confrontation »


Hearing Waycross

by Abigail Greenbaum

“I’d started to doubt the Gram Parsons myth, but I could still feel its narcotic lull.” Like many white Xennials, I learned about Gram Parsons late at night in a college dorm room, stoned and listening to somebody’s hippie parents’ records. Parsons played in the Byrds and taught the Rolling Stones about country music. He »


Reclaiming the Beat

The Sweet Subversive Sounds of HBCU Marching Bands

by Antron D. Mahoney

“The music is a gift; it makes room for us.” As a young Black queer male growing up in South Carolina, I was fascinated by marching bands at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Involved in music programs at an early age, many of my music directors were HBCU alumni—South Carolina State, Savannah State, Fayetteville »


Riffing and Remixing

by Regina N. Bradley, Charles Hughes

In advance of two special issues, Regina N. Bradley and Charles Hughes caught up to discuss the hip-hop South and the many ways that their varied interests intersect⁠—from hip-hop histories and futures to riffing and representation. Those issues are now available: The Sonic South (Spring 2022), guest edited by Bradley, and Disability (Spring 2023), guest »


Butterflies, Breakups, and Breakthroughs

A Playlist on Love

by Rissi Palmer

My first exposure to the concept of love was memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 in Sunday school. Even as a little girl, the idea of a love that was patient, kind, selfless, and unconditional sounded like something I wanted to be a part of. Later on, Disney movies and fairy tales filled my tiny head with »


Soul Clap

Rhythm and Resilience in Afro-Carolina Landscapes

by Michelle Lanier

“‘Rhythm is who we are—if we didn’t have that, how could we make it?’” The question is: How do I render sound visible? For me, the answer is ethnopoetics, a mode of presenting performance, ritual, and cultural expression through the tools of poetry. In its possibilities for mirroring moments, and reflecting the spaciousness and impact »


The “Good Old Rebel” at the Heart of the Radical Right

by Joseph M. Thompson

On July 4, 1867, Augusta, Georgia’s newspaper, the Daily Constitutionalist, published the words to a new song that seemed to reflect the bitterness felt by many white southerners following the Confederate defeat. The paper printed the song’s title as “O! I’m a Good Old Rebel” above a spiteful dedication to Thaddeus Stevens, the abolitionist congressman »


The High and Lonesome Art of John Cohen and Roscoe Halcomb

by Grace Elizabeth Hale

On a sticky June Sunday in 1959, two people meet each other outside an eastern Kentucky hamlet called Daisy. A twenty-seven-year-old college grad living in New York City, the grandson of Russian Jewish immigrants, wants to experience the Great Depression, and he is listening for music that might work like time travel. The other man, »



by Skylar Gudasz

“In the business of surviving, it is easy to forget that almost half of our lives is spent dreaming.” The pandemic came to stay for awhile and settled us down, grounded like teenagers in some enduring season beyond the usual markers of weather and time. Southern Cultures, at the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, invited some »