Caroline Randall Williams: Blues Work (is the Work)


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The blues can’t be defined by a set of chord progressions. It’s a philosophy, it is catharsis, it is taking something painful, and turning it into art. In this episode, Adia sits down with blues scholar and poet Caroline Randall Williams. Together they redefine the blues, and talk about what American culture can learn from its music. For the playlist of songs curated for this episode visit

/Music In This Week's Episode/

Sippie Wallace, “Women Be Wise”

Muddy Waters, “Mannish Boy”

Koko Taylor, “I Am a Woman”

Samantha Ege, “Fantasie Nègre No. 1 in E Minor

Billie Holiday, “Solitude”

Precious Bryant, “Fool Me Good”

/Show Notes/

Caroline Randall Williams article that made waves in the New York Times last summer is called You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument.

Caroline says her life sounds like the playlist of blues songs her students made for her, particularly “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” by Leadbelly.

Adia and Caroline collaborate as part of their poetry collective, the Blair House

Caroline’s book and ballad about Shakespeare’s Dark Lady is called Lucy Negro, Redux.

The song giving Caroline life right now is “No Weapon” by Fred Hammon.

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