Curated by Brendan Greaves, Harrison Haynes and Trevor Schoonmaker
Welcome to the Southern Accent Music Library, an extensive listening library of songs of and about the American South. No region in the United States has contributed more to American music than the South, and its music has played an essential role in defining and exporting “southernness” to the rest of the world. As part of Southern Accent and as a counterpoint to the art on view, this extensive listening library consists of songs of and about the American South. Like the visual works in the exhibition, the recordings in the music library span the 1950s to the present.
Organized both chronologically and thematically, the Southern Accent Music Library functions as a brief, subjective musical history. Selected songs address questions of southern culture, identity, history, folk life and lifestyle, featuring lyrics and compositional and performance styles that have helped define what it means to be southern. Perspectives come from both inside and outside the South, with a strong bent toward artists and traditions from the region. To help demonstrate the diversity and enormity of the South’s musical output and influence, no more than one song has been included by any one artist. While curating this collection is an inherently subjective endeavor, effort has been made to balance greatest hits and southern heroes with unexpected artists and more obscure and provocative tracks. By its very nature, the Southern Accent Music Library is not comprehensive, but the attempt is for the collection to be inclusive when it comes to musical genres, eras and cultural perspectives.
Visitors may also experience the complete Southern Accent Music Library at listening stations at the Nasher Museum, as part of Southern Accent.
We wish to thank our colleagues for their recommendations and guidance in building the Southern Accent Music Library. They include J Caldwell, Jefferson Currie, Molly Yarbrough Davis, Alexa Dilworth, Jake Xerxes Fussell, David Haynes, Beth Hinton, Mac McCaughan, Jay Myers, Nathan Salsburg, Tom Shaw, Laura Dossinger Slawter, and Christopher Smith.