The Oxford American magazine’s Southern Music issue is always something to look forward to. Besides nearly 200 pages of some of the best music writing in the country, the accompanying CDs are filled with a rich collection of soulful songs that make the annual edition last much longer.
This winter, folks in the Natural State will be smiling a little wider when tearing the plastic off the 11th edition. That’s because this year marks the debut of the magazine’s new state series which focuses on the musical heritage of a particular Southern state, in addition to covering the breadth and depth of music from the entire region.
And rather fittingly, they started with Arkansas.
“We are very pleased to inaugurate this new concept by focusing on Arkansas,” said Warwick Sabin, publisher of The Oxford American. “Besides being our home state, we also feel that Arkansas has never received the attention it deserves for its rich musical history and experience. The Oxford American — with its outstanding reputation and credibility among music experts and music lovers worldwide — is in a unique position to place Arkansas among the vanguard of musical heritage sites.”
The Oxford American’s Southern Music issue includes a double-CD package. The first is a mix of Southern music representing a variety of artists and genres, and the second is devoted exclusively to an exploration of music produced in Arkansas or by native Arkansans. The magazine also includes a special editorial section with articles about the artists and songs featured on the Arkansas CD.
The eclectic mix of Arkansas artists includes legends like Frank Frost, The Esquires and Sister Ernestine Washington as well as newcomers like American Princes and Chris Denny.
The Arkansas music CD and the special editorial section about Arkansas music were made possible through a partnership with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and Tyson Foods.
The issue has won two National Magazine Awards and other high honors since it was first introduced in 1999. The New York Times once wrote, “The Oxford American may be the liveliest literary magazine in America … The CDs are so smart and eclectic they probably belong in the Smithsonian.” The Southern Music issue has showcased both famous and criminally neglected musicians, everyone from R.E.M. to the Gants, Isaac Hayes to Erma Franklin, Lucinda Williams to Karen Dalton, Carl Perkins to the Armstrong Twins, Willie Nelson to Gary Stewart, Jerry Lee Lewis to Nellie Lutcher and more. Stanley Crouch, Peter Guralnick, Steve Martin, Rosanne Cash, Nick Tosches and Kevin Brockmeier have contributed writing to the Southern Music Issues.
Look for it in bookstores and newsstands or purchase a copy directly through oxfordamerican.org.