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Tuesday
Nov132018

OXFORD AMERICAN 2018 Music Issue

"Welcome to the twentieth installment of the Oxford American’s Southern Music series. North Carolinians are not shy about celebrating their achievements—see: FIRST IN FLIGHT; the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolves; America’s earliest public college; Pepsi; Michael Jordan—and in the realm of music, the land of the longleaf pine has had a deep and enduring influence. I will tell you right off that a lot of the stories and songs in this issue are about pride.

The profiles, eulogies, and essays herein boast of remarkable achievements of North Carolina’s musicians across eras and genres: from unassailable legends (High Point’s John Coltrane, Tryon’s Nina Simone, Chapel Hill’s James Taylor) to contemporary masters (Snow Hill’s Rapsody, Jacksonville’s Ryan Adams, Raleigh’s 9th Wonder) to the seen-afresh (Dunn’s Link Wray, Kannapolis’s George Clinton, Winston-Salem’s dB’s, Charlotte’s Jodeci)—and, of course, the often-overlooked and in-between (Winston-Salem’s Wesley Johnson, Morganton’s Etta Baker, Chapel Hill’s Liquid Pleasure, Kinston’s Nathaniel Jones, Black Mountain’s period of hosting John Cage). 

The songs on the accompanying sampler (you can listen to the CD that came with your magazine, or via digital download using the code on the card inside the disc sleeve) were made across almost one hundred years—from April 1924, when Samantha Bumgarner and Eva Davis cut “Big-Eyed Rabbit” on 78 rpm, to September 2018, when Shannon Whitworth recorded a beautiful new version of Ella May Wiggins’s 1929 protest ballad in Asheville especially for our mix. In between, you have moments of transcendent musical history: Coltrane joining fellow North Carolinian Thelonious Monk’s band for some months in 1957; Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson sharing a stage in Winston-Salem in 2002; Cas Wallin hollering an old ballad of Madison County into a field recordist’s microphone in 1963; Sylvan Esso reconfiguring its music live on all-Moog synthesizers in 2013; Big Boy Henry talking his improvisational blues in 1982; brothers Vernon, Doug, and Link Wray gathering around a tape recorder in their kitchen in 1952. Some of these songs have not been publicly released until now.

This is the seventh Oxford American Music Issue I’ve worked on, and it’s always rewarding to dig into the South’s bottomless musical bounty. It is with overwhelming pride and Tarheel allegiance that I introduce the music issue devoted to my home state. North Carolina, I love you." - Oxford American

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