Although just 16 tracks, this covers an extremely wide array of styles, the common thread being that all the cuts were selected to illustrate aspects of Southern music. Bluegrass, rockabilly, New Orleans R&B, gospel, Appalachian folk, country, Cajun, and more arcane subgenres like Native American music and civil rights movement songs are also represented. Most of the performers are big names -- the Allman Brothers, Carl Perkins, Bill Monroe, Lydia Mendoza, Tammy Wynette, Doc Watson -- but there's also room for the SNCC Freedom Singers, Betty Mae Jumper, and the Kingsmen (the white gospel group, not the "Louie Louie" band). The quality of the music is expectedly high, but because the stylistic range is so wide, it's really mostly of interest to those without much background in Southern musical traditions, as an introduction or a taste. Seasoned music collectors will tend to have already been exposed to most of the artists and genres represented. The Smithsonian does their usual good job in presenting the overview with taste and thorough liner notes.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger