Alice Randall
Randall standing in front of a New York Comic Con-branded backdrop
Randall at the New York Comic Con
BornMari-Alice Randall
(1959-05-04) May 4, 1959 (age 64)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
  • Author
  • songwriter
  • screenwriter
  • educator
EducationHarvard University
GenreHistorical fiction, political fiction
SpouseDavid Ewing (1997--2017)
ChildrenCaroline Randall Williams

Alice Randall (born May 4, 1959) is an American author, songwriter, producer, and lecturer. She is best known for her contributions to country music, in addition to her novel and New York Times bestseller The Wind Done Gone, which is a reinterpretation and parody of the 1936 novel Gone with the Wind.[1]

Early life

Mari-Alice Randall was born on May 4, 1959, in Detroit, Michigan, and was raised in Washington, D.C.[2] She attended Harvard University, where she earned an honors bachelors degree in English and American literature and graduated cum laude.[3]

In 1983, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to become a country songwriter, where she still resides on the Vanderbilt University campus.[3] Alice Randall was married until 1990[4] to Avon Nyanza Williams III[5],[6] son of Avon N. Williams and together they had a daughter, Caroline.[7] In 1997, She married David Ewing, a ninth-generation Nashvillian, historian and former lawyer. She is currently a writer-in-residence and Professor at Vanderbilt University.[8]



On her second night in Nashville in 1983, Alice Randall was discovered by Steve Earle at the Bluebird Cafe. Earle taught Randall how to be a country songwriter, beginning that evening.[9] After starting her career in country music under the mentorship of Steve Earle, Randall founded her own music production company titled Midsummer Music in Nashville.[10]

Randall is the first African-American woman to write a number-one country hit.[11] The single "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)" was released in 1994 by country music singer Trisha Yearwood. Over 20 of her songs have been recorded, including several top 10 and top 40 records; with many of her songs having been performed by Trisha Yearwood and Mark O'Connor.[2] Additionally, she contributed to Johnny Cash's "The Chicken in Black", which was on the US Hot Country Songs by Billboard for twelve weeks.[12][13]

In addition to her song writing, Randall also wrote the video of the year "Is There Life Out There" by Reba McEntire, which won at the 1992 Academy of Country Music Awards.[14]



Randall is the author of six fiction novels:

Her first novel The Wind Done Gone, is a reinterpretation and parody of Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind. The Wind Done Gone retells Gone with the Wind from the viewpoint of Scarlett O'Hara's half-sister Cynara, a mulatto slave on Scarlett's plantation.

Randall and the publishing company of The Wind Done Gone, Houghton Mifflin, were sued in April 2001 by Mitchell's estate on the grounds that The Wind Done Gone infringed the copyright of Gone with the Wind. The lawsuit, Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin Co., was settled, allowing The Wind Done Gone to be published on the condition of a label of "An Unauthorized Parody".[15] In addition, Houghton Mifflin agreed to make a financial contribution to the Morehouse College, a historically black education institution in Atlanta supported by the Mitchell estate.[2] The novel became a New York Times bestseller.[16]

Randall's second novel, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, was named as one of The Washington Post's "Best Fiction of 2004."[17]


Published by Random House in 2015, the cookbook "Soul Food Love" was co-written by Randall and her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, an author and poet. Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams wrote the cookbook to inspire healthy living in their lives and in the African American community, by reducing fats and sugars, while paying homage to traditional soul food.[18] In February 2016, the book received the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Literature (Instructional).[19]

In 2006, Alice Randall also wrote My Country Roots, alongside Carter and Courtney Little. She published this non-fiction piece in Nashville, by Naked Ink.[20]


Randall wrote and produced the pilot of the television movie XXX's and OOO's, a film about four ex-wives of country music singers, on CBS in 1994. The 1 hour and 50 minute film was directed by Allan Arkush and co-written by John Wilder.[14][21]


Randall is now a Professor at Vanderbilt University, where she resides as a writer-in-residence and serves as the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities.[8] At Vanderbilt, she specializes in soul food, African American children's literature, African American film, and creative writing.[8] She teaches courses including lectures on "Country Lyric in American Culture" and "Soul Food as Text and In Text".[9] While at Vanderbilt, she is working on using the arts in the American health disparity as well as the international health disparity.[8]


Randall received the Al Neuharth Free Spirit Award in 2001[22] and the Literature Award of Excellence from the Memphis Black Writers Conference in 2002. She was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award in 2002.[3] Randall was also accepted for a prestigious writing residency at the famed Yaddo artist's community from June 23, 2011, to July 24, 2011.[23] Randall and her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, received the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Literature (Instructional) for their book, Soul Food Love.[19]

Randall was inducted into the Silver Circle in 2008, in honor of working in the country music industry for a quarter of a century. She was inducted alongside 10 other nominees, notably Reba McEntire, whose video of the year she wrote in 1992.[20]


See also


  1. ^ Green, Penelope (September 16, 2009). "At Home with Alice Randall: What Matters Most". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Paula J. K. Morris, "Randall, Alice 1959–", Contemporary Black Biography, 2003.
  3. ^ a b c Biography on Alice Randall Official Website, accessed February 9, 2007.
  4. ^ Green, Penelope (September 16, 2009). "What Matters Most". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  5. ^ "Army General Counsel Avon Williams III Dies". Washington Post. February 24, 2024. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  6. ^ "A.N. Williams 3d and Miss Randall Exchange Vows". The New York Times. September 29, 1985.
  7. ^ Nelson, Sandra (August 31, 2023). "Taking Vows: Caroline Randall Williams Marries Timothy Scott Darrah". Nfocus. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  8. ^ a b c d "Alice Randall". African American & Diaspora Studies. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Country Music | Ken Burns | PBS | Alice Randall Biography". Country Music | Ken Burns | PBS. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  10. ^ Kenan, Randall (Winter 2018). "An Interview with Alice Randall". Southern Quarterly. 55 (2/3): 227–244.
  11. ^ "An African American History Month Special: A Look at 'The Wind Done Gone,' a Parody of 'Gone With the Wind' Told From a Slave's Perspective" Archived February 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Democracy Now, February 21, 2002, accessed February 9, 2007.
  12. ^ "Alice Randall, Author"., the African American Literature Book Club. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  13. ^ "Johnny Cash". Billboard. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  14. ^ a b "Alice Randall, Author"., the African American Literature Book Club. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  15. ^ Calvin Reid, "HM, Mitchell Estate Settle 'WDG' Suit", Publishers Weekly, May 10, 2002.
  16. ^ "'Wind Done Gone' fifth on Amazon, 11th on New York Times best-seller list". Nashville Post. July 18, 2001. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  17. ^ "The best of 2004, brought to you by our eclectic band of reviewers". The Washington Post, December 5, 2004.
  18. ^ "Interweaving Family History With Healthy Soul Food". March 23, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  19. ^ a b "NAACP Image Awards – Inside the Show". Archived from the original on August 28, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Alice Randall CV" (PDF). Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  21. ^ XXX's & OOO's (TV Movie 1994) - IMDb, retrieved April 17, 2023
  22. ^ Al Neuharth Free Spirit Award Past Honorees Archived January 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Freedom Forum
  23. ^ Patterson, Jim. "Vanderbilt writer Alice Randall accepted for Yaddo residency". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved September 14, 2011.