Master of Verse
Explores history and race—black soldiers in the Civil War, for instance—in her powerful poetry, which earned the Mississippi native a 2007 Pulitzer Prize and the title poet laureate of the United States in both 2012 and 2014.
Sparked a new Great Smoky Mountains cuisine rooted in local country ham from Allan Benton, buttermilk, and ramps. Transformed his family’s Blackberry Farm in East Tennessee into an award-winning resort and dining destination. Friends, family, and food lovers mourned when he died in a 2016 skiing accident—a visionary taken too soon.
Turned the style-world spotlight from New York to the former mill town of Florence, Alabama, his muse and the headquarters for his thirteen eponymous stores. Makes workaday materials such as weathered leather, utilitarian denim, and raw linen into soulful button-downs, blazers, and shift dresses. billyreid.com
The Golden Ear
Nashville music producer who has manned the knobs for outlaw-country genre busters Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and Jason Isbell. Rightly earned his reputation as a trendsetter by keeping the voice in focus and the sound natural. A true artist whisperer. davecobbproducer.com
JULIAN P. VAN WINKLE III
Kentucky whiskey scion who inadvertently sparked a craze over his Pappy Van Winkle label when he created an exceptionally drinkable bourbon in frustratingly limited quantities. Watched bemusedly as it spawned a frothing cult and fanned interest in the Southern liquor nationwide. oldripvanwinkle.com
WILLIAM E. PALMER
As CEO of Tall Timbers land conservancy, shepherded innovative strategies for the restoration of longleaf pine and grassland habitats that support the comeback of Southern bobwhite quail populations. talltimbers.org
LAURA VINROOT POOLE
Landed the South on the international fashion map with her Charlotte boutique Capitol and its mix of grit and glam, from Golden Goose sneakers to Giambattista Valli couture. Champion of all things Southern, from thank-you notes and monograms to the joys of NASCAR.
University of South Carolina professor who rescues heirloom seeds from obscurity—even extinction—like a culinary Indiana Jones. Helped put such once-forgotten flavors as Bradford watermelon, Carolina Gold rice, and Carolina African runner peanuts back on Southern plates.
THE EMANUEL AME
Amazing Grace Personified
“Hate won’t win.” In the days following the massacre of nine Emanuel AME Church worshippers by a white supremacist in Charleston, South Carolina, grieving family members spoke healing words such as these. While they did not ignore the need for justice, their mighty testaments to faith and grace united a community and shifted the focus from an evil act to the power of forgiveness. emanuelamechurch.org
Trillion-watt multi- threat from Houston, with a wagonload of Grammys and worldwide influence. Paid tribute to her Southern ancestry and black womanhood in 2016’s genre-crossing “visual album” Lemonade, packed full of rootsy sounds and New Orleans imagery.
& VICTOR LYTVINENKO
North Carolina couple who in 2007 revamped an industrial space into Raleigh Denim Workshop. Hired skilled craftspeople to wield pre-automation sewing, hemming, and riveting machines also rescued from the heap. Make a hell of a pair of jeans—and Southern denim relevant again. raleighdenimworkshop.com
SID & ANN MASHBURN
Recast how a modern gent and lady should dress by opening service-focused his-and-her boutiques in Atlanta, then followed with outposts in Dallas, Houston, D.C., and L.A. Torchbearers for hospitable shopping with on-site tailoring and bourbon. sidmashburn.com; annmashburn.com
THE PIT MASTERS
Maestros of Meat
Elevated the title of pit master to rank alongside four-star chefs, thanks to authentic barbecue wizardry, from the brisket of Austin, Texas’s Aaron Franklin; to the whole-hog cookery of South Carolina’s Rodney Scott, North Carolina’s Sam Jones, and Nashville’s Pat Martin; to the traditionalism of Helen Turner in Brownsville, Tennessee, and Chris Lilly’s ascendant Alabama-style white sauce.
JOSEPH P. RILEY, JR.
Leader with Heart
Set the standard for Southern mayors by revitalizing Charleston, South Carolina, into a tourism magnet during his forty years of service and creating a more inclusive local government. Didn’t shrink from confronting the city’s past—demonstrated most keenly, perhaps, after 2015’s Emanuel