In Visions of the Black Belt, Robin McDonald and Valerie Pope Burnes offer a richly illustrated tour of the Black Belt, the fertile arc that represents the cultural efflorescence of Alabama's heartland. Like knowledgeable friends, McDonald and Burnes guide readers through the Black Belt's towns and architecture and introduce the region's great panoply of citizens, farmers, craftspeople, cooks, writers, and musicians. A constellation of Black Belt towns arose during Alabama's early decades, communities like Selma, Camden, Eutaw, Tuskegee, Greenville, and many more.Visions of the Black Belt recounts their stories and others, such as Demopolis's founding by exiles from Napoleon's France. Under a stormy sky, the ruins of CahabaAlabama's lost capitalreveal the secrets of this once-thriving Black Belt town. Also on this picturesque tour are the Black Belt's homes, from artless cabins wreathed in fern to great mansions wrapped with stately columns, such as Kirkwood and Reverie. Among the emblematic houses of worship lovingly photographed in Visions of the Black Belt is Prairieville's St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, noted for its Carpenter Gothic style. Also reflecting the region's history of faith are poignant graveyards such as Greenville's Pioneer Cemetery with its homespun memorials of seashell and concrete and the elegant lichen- clad marbles of Selma's Live Oak Cemetery. In photos and text, McDonald and Burnes bring to life the layers of history that shaped the Black Belt's tastes, sounds, and colors. Their gastronomic discoveries include the picant crawfish of the Faunsdale Bar & Grill and GainesRidge Dining Club's famed Black Bottom pie. They bring the sounds of the Black Belt to life, highlighting musicians representing a range of musical traditions from Native American to blues to country to gospel and of musical events like Eutaw's Black Belt Folk Roots Festival. They also introduce writers who draw inspiration from the Black Belt and visit the studios and workshops of the artists and craftspeople who transform the raw materials of their environmentfrom wood, metal, and clay to cloth, glass, paint, and even hayinto beautiful, profound, witty, and whimsical works of art. Including two maps and more than 370 full-color photographs, Visions of the Black Belt offers a timeless message of faith, determination, and the rich simplicity of living in harmony with the rhythms of the land and nature.