Tressie McMillan Cottom: Can’t Have The Beat (Without The Burden)


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Tressie McMillan Cottom says the blues go beyond the beat and key. It’s a feeling born and inherited from the experience of Southern Black women. As Call & Response dives deeper into the blues, the sociologist and 2020 MacArthur fellow says she can hear the historical echoes of pain and urgency throughout Southern music -- and wants listeners to understand why they do too. For the playlist of songs curated for this week’s episode visit:

/ Music In This Week's Episode /

The Shirelles, “Mama Said”

Junior, “Mama Used To Say”

2Pac, “Dear Mama”

Gladys Knight and the Pips, “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”

Dolly Parton, “Coat of Many Colors”

Odetta, “Mother’s Blues (Little Children Blues)”

Nina Simone, “Blues for Mama”

/ Show Notes /

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s latest book is "Thick: And Other Essays",” out now from The New Press. Tressie is also working on two upcoming books, “Basic” and “The Vivian.”

Adia and Tressie discuss “The Dolly Moment,” an essay Tressie wrote for her newsletter in February.

Tressie says “Dope Queen Blues” by Adia Victoria is the song that’s giving her light right now.

/ Credits /

Call & Response is a Sonos show produced by work x work: Scott Newman, Jemma Rose Brown, Adia Victoria, Ann Marie Awad and Daniel Rayzel. Our engineer is Sam Bair of The Relic Room.

21 episodes