Like a Shovel and a Rope

“We had nothing to lose,” Cary Ann said. “Fuck it. Band. Family. Let’s give it a shot. . . . Handshake, spit on it. If it gets too nasty we’ll cut and run.”

Source: Oxford American
Published: Nov 19, 2019
Length: 32 minutes (8,147 words)

Eartha Kitt, Coming Home

The many lives of an icon.

Source: Oxford American
Published: Nov 19, 2019
Length: 20 minutes (5,084 words)

Sing Across the Ocean

“Ranky Tanky is an ancestral funk band. Their members are variously jazz and gospel trained, but as a collective, ancestral funk is their genre. I know because they start Ranky Tanky, their first album, with horns on the three and four, but Good Time, their second one, released in July, with bass on the one.”

Source: Oxford American
Published: Oct 31, 2019
Length: 26 minutes (6,636 words)

The Great American Press Release

America has many ways of reminding Black people that the Constitution and American Dream were not created for them.

Source: Oxford American
Published: Sep 3, 2019
Length: 13 minutes (3,346 words)

Everything He Wrote Was Good

Talented, troubled ─ unlike Willie Morris and Marshall Frady’s legacies, the life and work of Southern writer Johnny Greene has largely been forgotten, until another writer tried to piece it together. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t entirely clear.

Source: Oxford American
Published: Sep 3, 2019
Length: 32 minutes (8,055 words)

Letter Imperfect

One woman faces the ghosts of her sorority past.

Source: Oxford American
Published: Sep 3, 2019
Length: 15 minutes (3,926 words)

Beyond the Levee

The land called Big Island, Mississippi, is populated by tall tales about a murderous, moonshining frontiersman name Perry Martin, but the stories and thick woods that still cover this land preserve its old world magic. That’s what keeps one camper coming back.

Source: Oxford American
Published: Jun 11, 2019
Length: 8 minutes (2,009 words)

Vessel of Antiquity

For musical performance artist Leon Redbone, the past was all the material he needed, except his own, which he replaced with a persona. “I don’t have a past,” he said. “The past begins tomorrow.” Strange enough to earn comparisons to Frank Zappa and Tom Waits, Redbone often got shelved in record stores’ rock sections, even though rock, as one of his band members said, was “the one style of music he didn’t play.” Redbone passed away on May 30, and this profile unravels some mysteries while deepening others.
Author: Megan Pugh
Source: Oxford American
Published: Mar 19, 2019
Length: 20 minutes (5,234 words)

Queen of Snow Hill

To the larger world, Marlanna “Rapsody” Evans came rushing out of nowhere like a breath of fresh air in a dank field of female MCs, where rumors of butt injections, baby-daddy drama, dis records, Twitter beefs, and Fashion Week fisticuffs too often taint discussions about women’s flow and relevance, where lyricists of substance get labeled “conscious” and thus niche. Not Rapsody. She’s been slowly building her cred as Jamla’s wunderkind, guided by super-producer and hip-hop scholar Patrick “9th Wonder” Douthit, grindin’ around the world while holding fast to the values she learned from Mama Laila, her parents, and her vast family, which includes four siblings, a dozen aunts and uncles on her mother’s side alone, and a cadre of cousins. Many of her kin still reside in Snow Hill, a town of roughly two thousand in North Carolina’s Coastal Plains region, full of tobacco farms and open fields, jukes and corner stores, a penitentiary, and a smattering of churches. The DuPont plant in nearby Kinston employs many residents; Rapsody’s father, Roy, worked there as a mechanic for years.

Source: Oxford American
Published: Nov 20, 2018
Length: 22 minutes (5,500 words)

Mystic Chords

Best known for his 1958 instrumental hit “Rumble,” guitarist Link Wray recorded a trio of underappreciated albums with his brothers in their family chicken shack in the early 1970s. They sound like nothing else in his sprawling rock catalogue.

Source: Oxford American
Published: Nov 1, 2018
Length: 32 minutes (8,115 words)