Meet Hilary Saunders, No Depression’s New Editor
Here in Asheville, in the wood behind my home, the leaves are changing color and falling from the trees. The temperature has yet to give way, but I know it’s coming — that crisp, autumnal, chai-flavored breeze. The beer people are looking forward to the release of Cold Mountain. Time is moving on.
I especially enjoyed the entrance of Autumn as I drove over the mountains on Tuesday for the first time in a few years, making my way through Pisgah National Forest, with its mix of oak and evergreen, and all those other trees I know nothing about. The color faded as I rounded the bend and eventually spotted the sign pointing the way up the hill to the Highlander Research and Education Center.
Seven years ago, I packed up my things and moved to this part of the country from Seattle, just to be close to that place, to study the life and work of Zilphia Horton for a story toward which I felt umbilically pulled. Though I spent a few years “going hard” with that intention, life then did what life does: It happened. I had a child and got married. No Depression changed hands and we decided to bring the magazine back to the page, which has been quite the feat. But now, with nine issues down, the time has come for me to follow the lead of the leaves and fall off.
It’s time to round the bend back to Highlander and Zilphia’s story, which has still yet to be given its due.
So, as I shift my focus to that project that has held onto my heart for the better part of a decade (and others that are waiting patiently behind it), I’m now in the position of saying goodbye to No Depression.
It’s a strange thing to write a goodbye letter to you, readers. I’ve left other jobs in my life and not had to say goodbye to customers or the wider community of people who have used the service I’ve helped to provide. But No Depression is different, and my place here is different. Over the past decade, we have traversed plenty of unmarked territory together.
I was hired shortly after the magazine went out of print, in 2008. Had I known what I was getting into, I may not have lept into it so readily, but that’s the thing about leaping. The 19th Century essayist John Burroughs wrote the line, “Leap and the net will appear.” I’ve always liked that, reminded myself of it during ND’s many leaps over the past decade. The net has always appeared, thanks to you, our community.
We haven’t always agreed on everything, whether politics or Garth Brooks or fried clams, but we’ve shared it here. I hope you’ll continue to do so. Regardless of what’s happening on the national news, it’s always been a relief to me to be able to see civil discourse remain intact around this kind of music we all have in common. (Well, except when we mention the Dixie Chicks.)
I say all of this because it’s high time I introduce you to the new Managing Editor of ND, the incredibly talented and capable Hilary Saunders, who will be jumping in with both feet on November 1. Welcome her with open arms!
I’ll still be around through the end of the year, helping Hilary get up to speed, helping the Spring/Appalachia issue of the print journal come to fruition, and generally doing whatever I can behind the scenes to ease the transition. But, beyond that, I look forward to seeing where Hilary takes this. Regardless, I leave ND with immense gratitude for the nine-or-so years of hard work and great music, and the farflung friends (some of whom I may never meet in real life) to whom it has introduced me.
Hilary is a guitarist and harpist, and is determined to learn banjo. She’s a world traveler, a 22-year vegetarian and animal lover (especially dolphins), an ardent Beatles fan who studied at the University of Miami and the University of Liverpool, and a Bon Jovi apologist.
She comes to us from Paste magazine, where she was the Associate Music Editor after her many years of freelancing in the realms of music, sports, urban development, culture, religion, and so on. She’s sharp as a tack and has exquisite taste in music.
If you’ve subscribed to ND in print, you’ve likely already seen some of her articulate music writing — she reported on the development of the Over the Rhine community of Cincinnati in our Spring 2017/Heartland issue, and profiled the all-female Afghan group Ensemble Zohra in our Summer 2017/Over Yonder issue. Aside from her fierce writing chops, she has a rare blend of knowledge and talent in both print and online music journalism, which will serve her well here.
And, important to me, she’s in it for the right reasons. When I asked her what she likes about ND, she responded, “I’ve always tried to prove that the arts, and especially music, can help strengthen communities and unify folks with differing values [or] experiences, and I look forward to sharing those messages of hope with and through ND in the coming years.”
So give her a hand and welcome her into your world. She won’t steer you wrong.