Rob Rushin-Knopf

A Taste of the Divine Nectar

Zoh Amba is a rarity — a white woman saxophonist, from Appalachia, no less — playing “free jazz” in New York and around the world. But to pigeonhole her into a “hillbilly exotica” tale would be to devalue the hard work of a woman whose music fearlessly chases the divine.

The Act of Being Human

Tennessee’s Adeem the Artist sounds country — truly and deeply country — but every sharp lyric and wicked guitar twang challenges our notions of what “country” really means.

Wadada Leo Smith Invites You to Listen

The Mississippi-born trumpeter and composer, now 81, is a musical pioneer whose work stands alongside the achievements of Southerners like Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters and Hank Williams.

A Wadada Leo Smith Music Primer

Listen to more of the Mississippi master’s music.

Amy Ray Gives Thanks

In this special Thanksgiving feature, Indigo Girl Amy Ray talks about her new album, “If It All Goes South.” She explains how she made peace with the negativity that accompanied growing up gay in the Southern church, how her practice of gratitude is helping her transform into an “optimist Southerner,” and the ongoing importance of being earnest.

The Fussell Family Business

Guitarist and singer Jake Xerxes Fussell grew up steeped in folklore, thanks to his musicologist father and textile artist mother. Like his parents, the younger Fussell is always searching through the back catalogs of Southern culture — but rendering art that is always of the moment.

A Love Letter From Beyond the Grave

Released three years after his death, “Things Happen That Way” is the final album from the late, great master of New Orleans funk, Dr. John.

Jake Blount’s Straight Line from Lowcountry Shouts to Afrofuturism

The traditional musician Jake Blount plumbs the depths of African American string band music and comes up with a thoroughly modern style that’s like nothing you’ve ever heard.

The Sound of a Well-Chilled Sazerac

This is what happens when a New Orleans saxophonist draws his inspiration from Sweden. Meet the virtuosic Randal Despommier.

Listen to This: Music from the Tennessee Mountains

Norman Blake is a veteran keeper of the Tennessee mountains’ musical traditions. And a young act, the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, is championing the same heritage.

Willi Carlisle’s Song of Himself

“Salvation.” It’s right there in our name. It’s an elusive state attained via unexpected detours and poorly drawn maps. Willi Carlisle’s second album, “Peculiar, Missouri,” lays bare the peculiar path that this Arkansas man traveled to a place where he can see salvation waiting for him.

Hope Is Hard Work

A broad slate of community collaborations set in motion by Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival offered real sources of hope, not only for the city and its community, but also for people from other cities who came to be part of the experiment. This is the last in a three-part series examining the community engagement initiatives at Big Ears 2022.