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The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) collects interviews with southerners from all walks of life. Since 1973 the SOHP has preserved the voices of the region, capturing compelling personalities and poignant stories under our motto “You don’t have to be famous for your life to be history.” In order to introduce wider audiences to this trove of Southern narratives, and to support a growing community of audio producers, we are thrilled to announce our new audio competition, The Sonic South.

For our inaugural competition, we’re focusing on the theme of persistence.

This year we are highlighting women’s voices, which have always been central to SOHP’s collection. Women’s stories help us understand the social and economic changes that people across the South have experienced and initiated. Women’s leadership and activism—their persistence in the face of authority—have been key to the political movements of our time. Of course, not all women have embraced change; persistence can also mean the ongoing power of old traditions and ways of thinking. No matter what our politics or our outlook, all our lives have been indelibly shaped by these stories.

We want audio producers of all levels to use the SOHP archive to create new and innovative audio stories, documentaries, sound art, or sonic experiments. The finished work must focus on the theme of persistence—interpreted however the producer may wish—and must use the voices of southern women from the SOHP’s archive of more than 6,000 interviews. Producers are encouraged to think creatively about format, structure, and style.

WUNC’s Race and Southern Culture Reporter, Leoneda Inge.

The competition will culminate in a public listening event on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at the new Current Theater. Leoneda Inge, Race and Southern Culture Reporter for WUNC will moderate the evening. We’ll share five works selected by the SOHP’s panel of judges, followed by a short panel discussion and reception.






Competition Rules

Produced pieces must:

  • Be 3–5 minutes in length
  • Incorporate the voices of women narrators from the SOHP archive
  • Use persistence as a theme

The deadline for submissions is March 19, 2018. The top five winners will be announced by the beginning of April. First prize is $250.

The SOHP’s digital archive can be found by visiting

To get a sense of all the SOHP projects, you can search through this finding aid of the archive.


  • Your full name
  • Contact information (email, phone number, address)
  • Title of work
  • A short (150 words or less) description of your work
  • Cited source materials used in your work

Please send submissions to in wav format no later than Monday, March 19, 2018.

For questions about submissions, or for help accessing and using the SOHP archive, please contact Sara Wood:

The SOHP encourages producers of all levels, backgrounds, genders, colors, and ages to submit to the competition.