The Sonic South was founded and hosted by the Southern Oral History Program at the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill. Celebrating its inaugural year in 2018, the Sonic South audio competition was developed as a way to get everyone, especially those who may not be in academia, to engage with and explore our interview archives, and to experience the power of stories as captured by oral history.

We invited producers to use our interviews to create new and thought-provoking short-form audio documentaries, sound art, sonic experiments, and aural landscapes. In 2018 the competition’s them was Women Who Persist. The following year (2019), the theme In Sickness and In Health was inspired by the SOHP’s major research project, Stories to Save Lives: Health, Illness, and Medical Care in the South.

Producers were encouraged to think creatively about format, structure, and style. Each year a small panel of judges reviewed entries and selected the top five pieces to be played at a live listening room in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.