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The Oxford American Releases Music Issue with Focus on Louisiana

November 28, 2012
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The Oxford American magazine's 14th annual Southern Music Issue — accompanied by a CD with 21 songs featuring music from Louisiana — hits bookstores and newsstands nationwide on Dec. 1.

The Oxford American’s 2012 Southern Music Issue showcases the rich musical heritage of the state of Louisiana, where sounds emanating from the swamps of Acadiana, the cotton fields of North Louisiana, and the streets and barrelhouses of New Orleans percolated into America’s national consciousness and left a profound mark on modern music.

Hand-picked by the staff of The Oxford American and guest editor Alex Rawls, a former editor of Offbeat Magazine and a longtime fixture of the Louisiana music scene, this year’s 21-track compilation showcases the great variety of styles and genres that has emerged from the creole state—from Cajun to funk, country, jazz, New Orleans bounce, zydeco, r&b, gospel, blues, rock & roll, and everything in between.

“No one knows Louisiana music like Alex Rawls,” said Roger D. Hodge, The Oxford American’s new editor. “Alex sought to evoke the rootedness of music in the diverse communities who inhabit Louisiana. Music is not a mere pastime for the people of this state; it is their body and their blood and their life. The stories we tell in this issue of The OA speak to that essential, primal connection.”

In 152 pages of insightful writing and stunning artwork, The Oxford American delves deep into Louisiana’s musical landscape—its past, present, and future.

Highlights include:

Jason Berry, author of Up From the Cradle of Jazz, on the life and legacy of Professor Longhair, the “Bach of Rock”
Jazz critic Stanley Crouch with a definitive exposition on the jazz aesthetic and the fundamental innovations of New Orleans’ greatest jazz artists
Three new poems by Louisiana’s own Yusef Komunyakaa, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who evokes the region’s blues and jazz traditions in his verse and vernacular
Amanda Petrusich on the emotional power of the singing and playing of Amédé Ardoin, the great black Cajun accordionist
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Rose on Louisiana’s role as the cradle of American music
Duncan Murrell explores the paradoxes of the quest for authenticity and originality in American roots music and the conflicts that have arisen between New Orleans’ musical communities and political authorities
PLUS: Interviews, profiles, remembrances, and special features devoted to an array of artists and institutions, including Johnny Adams, Rev. Utah Smith, Margaret Lewis, Meschiya Lake and the Little Bighorns, Robert Pete Williams, The Meters, Barbara Reid, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Shreveport’s Louisiana Hayride, Terrance Simien, New Orleans brass bands, Bourbon Street, Tony Joe White, Zydeco hip-hop, and more.

Don’t forget to visit our website (www.oxfordamerican.org) for additional features on Louisiana music, including an alternate music playlist!

The Oxford American is also pleased to announce the return of Rick Clark to the magazine as music editor. Clark, a music producer based in Nashville and Santa Monica, was behind the selection and production of The Oxford American’s music compilations from 1998-2005.

This is the fourth year The Oxford American's award-winning and critically acclaimed Southern Music Issue focuses on the musical heritage of a particular Southern state. (Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi were featured in the last three editions, respectively.)

In previous years, The Oxford American's Music Issue and CD has generated considerable praise, from the BBC to The New York Times. The Houston Chronicle has called it, "The single best music-related magazine of any given year," while The Boston Globe simply termed it "a welcome fix." Musicians like Dolly Parton, Chris Isaak, and Tom Petty have also gone on record to praise it.

The Oxford American's Music Issue and CD is an annual treasure trove for music fanatics who welcome the introductions to lesser-known but fascinating musical artists from the South. It is available for $10.95 at most bookstores and newsstands nationwide, or it can be purchased directly at www.oxfordamerican.org.

This year's Southern Music Issue and CD were made possible through a partnership with the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and The Oxford American will work with Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and the agency to host five events around the state in 2013 to celebrate the musical heritage of Louisiana. The locations include Shreveport, Natchitoches, Lafayette, Ferriday, and New Orleans. More information is available at www.louisianatravel.com/oxford-american-events.

The Oxford American's annual Southern Music Issue has won two National Magazine Awards and other high honors since it was first introduced in 1999. It is considered by many readers and listeners to be among the best music packages in the country. Over the years, NPR has featured many of The Oxford American's Southern Music Issues on its broadcasts. 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. Such music-writing legends as Greil Marcus, William Gay, Stanley Crouch, Peter Guralnick, Steve Martin, Rosanne Cash, Nick Tosches, and Kevin Brockmeier—among many others—have contributed memorable writing to the Southern Music Issues.
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