Amanda Petrusich on blueswoman Bessie Smith: “She got what she wanted by working hard at it, finding new ways to profit from a cultivated skill. Some of the notes she hits are so robust, so fixed and powerful, listening to them feels like walking directly into a sliding glass door. You are stunned and embarrassed, looking around to see who else saw. Her forcefulness just sneaks up like that.”
At Oxford American, as part of their Southern Music Issue, Rosanne Cash celebrates the life and career of electric guitar pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, an American singer and guitarist who influenced Elvis, Keith Richards, and Johnny Cash. “She traveled the world and left it scorched with her fearlessness and musical originality, inspired fierce devotion from an audience who thrilled to her enormous gifts and her personal excesses, and shook the celestial rafters with the force of her artistic character.”
Alice Driver shares the story of her dad’s wish to build his own tomb on his own land. “He wanted his death, like his life, to be a work of art—a tomb he designed and filled with ceramics—and one that would allow him to define death on his own terms.”
In Houston, Texas, Bryan Washington explores what it means to be a regular at a restaurant — and how this type of relationship has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today, I venture proudly and safely into the straight world outside the confines of bars and clubs once designated specifically as ‘gay’ spaces. I can be free. This wouldn’t have been the case a generation ago.”
David Ramsey wrote a lyrical love letter to Little Richard at Oxford American in 2015. “For all of us, actuarially speaking, sooner or later the end is nigh. So let us dance: black and white, man and woman, believer and heathen. And everything in between. Let us dance, all of us, while we are still able, while we still can.”
A portrait of Dilley, Texas, home of the largest immigration detention center in the United States
The eulogy for novelist Charles Portis, delivered at Portis’ funeral by his friend and colleague Ernie Dumas.
“Mixed (race) feelings about Columbia’s Toro y Moi.”