2017-12-01 / Features

Their roots are deep in the South, but the harvest of their talent knows no geographical boundaries

Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg and up-and-coming recording artist Matt Munsey are two gifted writers who should be on your gift-giving list this holiday season.

Bragg, who was born and raised in northeast Alabama and has covered the country and foreign lands as a newspaper man, writes about his “people” in multiple books. The ones that won him his most loyal following are part of a trilogy that tells the story of his hard-scrabble family and their joys and tears, triumphs and tragedies, successes and failures in every aspect of life, played out in a dying mill town in the rural


There is no shortage of books about coming up through hard times. What makes Bragg’s stories unique is his ability to tell the tales with the King-Jamesversion of-the-Bible inspired voice of his beloved kith and kin – people he describes as the best story-tellers in the world.

He clearly inherited good genes, a receptive ear and an ability to convey stories in language that sings.

When you make your purchases – to enjoy yourself on a cold winter’s night or to delight the confirmed reader of your choice on Christmas morning – begin with “All Over but the Shoutin’.” It is the story of the mother he adores.

Then pick up “Ada’s Man,” his grandparents’ story.

Put on the finishing touches with “The Prince of Frog Town,” the book that helped him come to terms with his own father-centered grief and grit.

If you need to pursue a love affair with the lyrical nature of the English language, accented by melodies best defined and presented through stringed instruments, choose “Worlds Apart,” the 2016 CD release from a band called Monroeville.

While the band is a first-class bluegrass treat, based as it is on talent and drive in multiple arenas, the music members play is not so easily defined. Call it “rock alternative bluegrass,” but expect to hear producer, engineer, writer, musician, vocalist and artist Matt Munsey weave a multitude of musical styles and influences through the work he shares with his fellow musicians.

Get an early shopping start and reward yourself or choose special gifts from either of these Southern-based lyrical geniuses. Then feast without fear. There’s not a turkey in the bunch.

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