4. Longreads: A Lover’s Blues: The Unforgettable Voice of Margie Hendrix
The Longreads and Believer series Hive, about women and their musical influences, is one of my favorite things on the internet. I love writing about music and I love personal essays, and these two elements together form this alchemical series.
In this essay, Tarisai Ngangura investigates the life of Margie Hendrix, a solo artist and backup singer to Ray Charles who regularly out sung him. Ngangura has “thought about her regularly for years, wondering how a woman with that voice could disappear from the public eye so easily, after making such an unforgettable appearance.”
Hendrix “began her career as a solo singer who became a background vocalist for some of the world’s most beloved musicians and died working to make it on her own,” writes Ngangura. “I think she stays on my mind because I see in her life the reality of what it means to hustle with nothing but faith and talent. Sometimes there’s simply no ascent no matter how hard you try. Sometimes, or maybe often, the path ends not through any fault of your own.”
While this essay is only a 14-minute read, according to Longreads’ note at the top, it took me an hour to get through, stopping to listen to each clip and rereading Ngangura’s analyses of them.