SouthBound

The South… What is it? Movies, books, songs, myths and legends have tried to explain this part of the United States. SouthBound, a podcast series from WFAE, talks to people who were born and raised in the South. Hosted by journalist Tommy Tomlinson, SouthBound features conversations with notable Southerners from all walks of life – from artists and athletes to preachers and politicians.

New episodes will come out every other week on Wednesday. Subscribe:
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Who would you like to hear on the SouthBound podcast? Submit your favorite Southerner below and the question you would love for them to answer. Who knows... you might just hear them on a future episode.

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Vivian Howard

Today we’re replaying a previously aired episode of "SouthBound" with chef and TV host Vivian Howard.

When author Kevin Wilson talks about combustibles, he means exactly what he says. His new novel, “Nothing To See Here,” features a set of twins who, when they get agitated, literally catch on fire.

Mitch Landrieu
Mitch Landrieu

Mitch Landrieu comes from one of the South’s most storied political families.

His dad, Moon Landrieu, was mayor of New Orleans for 28 years. His sister, Mary, was a U.S. Senator. Mitch was lieutenant governor of Louisiana and then mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018. After leaving office he founded the E Pluribus Unum Fund to study issues involving race in the South.

Steve Cody

Maurice Manning writes poems about turnips, and copperheads, and tire swings, and a woman who gets her apron strings caught in an old wringer washer. His work is dug from the ground of the Kentucky farmland where he lives. But it’s also elevated, universal, as high and expansive as the stars.

Ebru Yildiz

When you listen to Rhiannon Giddens, you might hear a little bit of anything. She grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, biracial and multicultural and absolutely omnivorous when it came to music.

Author photo by Kathryn Schulz

Harper Lee wrote one of the classic novels in American history, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” A second novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” was published under a cloud of controversy a few months before her death. But there was another book that Harper Lee worked on – a nonfiction story from her home state of Alabama that involved a preacher, a series of mysterious deaths, and possibly voodoo.

Ben Folds has pounded pianos into submission around the world for the past 25 years, playing everything from ballads to heavy-metal covers to symphonic pieces – often in the same night.

Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images

In Southeastern Conference football history, the true legends go by just one name. Bear. Herschel. Bo. And now there’s another, although you have to stretch it out: Pawwwwwwwwl.

David Crockett spent years as one of the announcers for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the wrestling promotion based in the Carolinas from the '50s through the '80s. His dad, Jim Crockett, founded the business.

Barb Bondy

Kyes Stevens went from her tiny hometown in Alabama to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. For a lot of people it might have been a springboard to a bigger world. But Stevens ended up going back home and making her own world bigger.

Courtesy of Drew Lanham

Listening to Drew Lanham is like standing in a field and hearing the sounds of nature wash over you. Lanham grew up in the country in South Carolina and fell in love with watching birds. Eventually, he turned that love into his career.

Courtesy of Ed Currie

On a patch of farmland down in South Carolina, a man named Ed Currie grows the hottest peppers on Earth. The Guinness Book of World Records says so – they’ve certified his pepper called the Carolina Reaper as the hottest ever measured. During this episode I try some sauce made from those peppers. It’s called Chocolate Plague. I’m relieved to still be here to tell you about it.

Joshua Burford / Facebook

Josh Burford was one of our first guests on SouthBound, a year and a half ago. Josh is an expert on the LGBTQ history of the South, and at the time we talked, he was about to leave Charlotte for Alabama to co-found the Invisible Histories Project, which aims to document queer history throughout the South.

Matt and Ted Lee are brothers who grew up in Charleston and moved to New York. They had what they thought was a great idea – to sell boiled peanuts to all the Southern-themed joints in the Big Apple. It didn’t go well.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Lisa Hendy just became the first woman to be named chief ranger at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She’s in charge of emergency operations for the park, which covers 800 square miles on the Tennessee-North Carolina border and is America's busiest national park, with 11.4 million visitors last year.

John Deputy

I met Tony Jack 10 years ago when I was on a fellowship at Harvard. It was the first day of a sociology class I was taking. Tony walked in looking like an NFL lineman – tall and thick and wearing a track suit. Then, the professor had us introduce ourselves. And about 10 seconds after Tony started talking, I knew he was the smartest one in the class.

Leighton Ford
Courtesy Leighton Ford

Leighton Ford wasn’t born a Southerner, but surely by now he qualifies – he has lived in Charlotte more than 60 years. Before then, back home in Canada, he met a young preacher named Billy Graham. He ended up not just working with Graham, but marrying his sister Jeanie. He went on to his own career as a teacher and mentor to young evangelist. But he and Billy Graham stayed friends to Graham’s dying day.

Photos courtesy of Sean Powers with Georgia Public Broadcasting and Chow Club Atlanta

Yohana Solomon had to learn a different way of living when she emigrated to America 20 years ago. She took political asylum here as her home country of Ethiopia was in the middle of a war. Eventually, she landed in Atlanta. And now she brings the whole world to a Southern supper table.

Photo courtesy of Chuck Culpepper

Chuck Culpepper and I were friends for years before I ever met him — we used to talk about music and storytelling on a chat room created by some fellow writers back in the Internet’s dial-up days. Chuck is one of the few openly gay male sportswriters in America. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Hanchett

Tom Hanchett is a historian. Charlotte is his particular area of expertise, but he has spent years studying how the modern South came to be. So how did our history make the South what it is today? And what are some of the changes likely to come our way in the future?

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