Last summer, following the release of her single “South Gotta Change,” stellar poet and blues musician Adia Victoria guest-edited a cover package for the Scene, also called “South Gotta Change.” The theme of both the song and the collection of poems and essays is providing a full perspective on Southern identity — one that is open and honest about how fundamental Black people, Black culture and Black art are to our region.
This week, Victoria announced her third LP A Southern Gothic, which continues the thread. Victoria co-produced the album with renowned producer T Bone Burnett and her bandmate and partner Mason Hickman. Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Stone Jack Jones, Kyshona and more appear on it.
The simmering lead single “Magnolia Blues” is sung from the perspective of a woman who left the South at the behest of a lover, but who’s decided to make her way back home and seek the spiritual nourishment of being in a place that feels like yours. “I'm gonna plant myself under a magnolia,” she sings. “I’m gonna let that dirt do its work.” It’s a difficult task, and she isn’t likely to get much help, but she’s compelled to see it through.
The music video for “Magnolia Blues,” directed by Zaire Love, has also hit the web. In a note on Instagram, Victoria explains how the song and the short film accompanying it work together in reclaiming the image of the magnolia tree, often used as a symbol of white — and white supremacist — Southern gentility.
“It is high praise of Black Southern abundance,” Victoria writes, “black like prayer meeting at the river, black like white fans on brown skin in church, black like my grandmama’s watermelon patch, black like our hands patting atop our thighs and alway on beat, black like their eyes always watching God.”
Victoria also credits poet Joshua Asante — whose poem “Untitled” was a part of the “South Gotta Change” cover — for his guidance on the project, as well as choreographer Gabriel D. Terry, who acts in the video and leads a dance with Victoria.
Check it out above, and see your favorite record store or this handy link to preorder A Southern Gothic. The record is out Sept. 17 via Atlantic subsidiary Canvasback Music. Keep an eye on Victoria’s website and social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) for updates on the album and her tour.