Huntsville Sacred Harp Newsletter

Number 27, February 1998

David Ivey, Editor (
16021 Deaton Drive, Huntsville AL 35803
(205) 881-5291

United Convention to be Held in Huntsville

The United Sacred Harp Musical Association will hold its annual two day convention in Huntsville in 1998 on Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13. This convention last met in Huntsville in 1989 at the Burritt Museum.

According to The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and Its Music by Buell Cobb, the United Sacred Harp Musical Association was founded in Atlanta in 1904 by Joe S. James and was based in that city for several years. The United Association appointed the revision committee that revised the Sacred Harp as handed down by B.F. White, the revision known as the James Revision. About a thousand people attended each singing in its heyday in the 1920s in the Atlanta area.

A list of the locations and chairmen of this convention over the last 24 years follows:

1997   Old County Line Church   Corner AL           Harrison Creel
1996   Shady Grove Church       Dutton AL           Rex Wilks
1995   Liberty Church           Henagar AL          Coy Ivey
1994   Emmaus P.B. Church       Carrollton GA       Jerry Enright
1993   Old County Line Church   Corner AL           Harrison Creel
1992   West Georgia College     Carrollton GA       David McGukin
1991   Old County Line Church   Corner AL           Harrison Creel
1990   First Baptist Church     Evanston IL         Ted Mercer
       University of Chicago    Chicago IL
1989   Burritt Museum           Huntsville AL       David Ivey
1988   Wilson Chapel            Carrollton GA       Sheri Webb
1987   Shady Grove Church       Dutton AL           Mark Brown
1986   Sherer Auditorium        Jasper AL           Hugh McGraw
1985   VFW Hall                 Fort Payne AL       Kelly Beard
1984   Hopewell P.B. Church     Oneonta AL          Coy Ivey
1983   Climax Presb. Church     Westville GA        Richard DeLong
1982   Shady Grove Church       Dutton AL           Toney Smith
1981   Hopewell P.B. Church     Oneonta AL          David Ivey
1980   Wilson Chapel            Carrollton GA       Henry Wilson
1979   Liberty Church           Henagar AL   Preston Crider & Coy Ivey
1978   Rocky Mount P.B. CHurch  Arab AL             Ricky Harcrow
1977   Antioch Baptist Church   Ider AL             Leonard Lacy
1976   Ephesus P.B. Church      Fairfax AL          E.G. Akin
1975   Wilson Chapel            Carrollton GA       Jim Ayers
1974   Smyrna Church            Goodwater AL        E.I. McGuire

Schedule of Singings

The next Huntsville Friday Night Singing will be on February 6th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Burritt Museum. Please come and join the singing. Sacred Harp songbooks and the new 1997-1998 Directory and Minutes will be available.

In Memoriam

The Huntsville Sacred Harp singers have been saddened in recent months in the deaths of two of our long time, dedicated singers and supporters. Mrs. Estelle Napier died on September 1 after an extended illness. Mr. Hussell A. Godsey died on December 30, also after an extended bout of bad health. Both Mrs. Napier and Mr. Godsey had supported Sacred Harp in the Huntsville area since the early 1980s. They also traveled beyond Huntsville to other singings in North Alabama and Tennessee. The Huntsville Sacred Harp singers extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families. We will miss them.

Jones Has Sacred Harp Article Published

Mr. Joe Jones of Huntsville has authored an article on Sacred Harp that was published in the Autumn 1997 edition of The Sunrise Sampler, a new magazine about people, places, and events in the Sunrise (eastern) Region of Alabama. The article, entitled "Fading Shape-Note Singing Assumes New Vigor," begins:

Shape-note fa-so-la singing, held dear in the hearts and memories of a diminishing number of Southerners, is far from dead, having shifted gears and making moves toward becoming something of a national rather than a regional cultural interest. And Alabamians are at the very core of this movement.

The following is the editor's note provided with the article:

Joseph M. (Joe) Jones, son of the late Leo R. Jones and Mattie McWhorter Jones, is a Heflin, Alabama native who now lives in Huntsville. In writing the foregoing article, he speaks from knowledge and experience acquired over the years through family and friends devoted to Sacred Harp singing. Both he and his wife, Frances Etheredge Jones, a native of Ozark, Alabama, have a deep and abiding family heritage of Sacred Harp and they have instilled in their sons, Lee, Donald, and Alan, the desire to continue this family tradition. Joe recently retired from a writing career that began with the Montgomery Advertiser and ended with
NASA in Huntsville as Director of Public Affairs.

Joe will have a limited number of copies of this issue of The Sunrise Sampler at our upcoming local singing. The complete article will appear in the upcoming April edition of this newsletter. More information about The Sunrise Sampler is available from Betty Jones, Managing Editor, at 106 Howle Street, Heflin, Alabama 36264.

Annual Huntsville All-Day Singing

The fourteenth annual session of the Huntsville All Day Singing will be held at Burritt Museum on Saturday, May 2. Mark Carroll will be the Chairman this year. If you would be willing to host some visiting out-of-town singers in your home during this weekend, please call David Ivey at 881-5291.

Sacred Harp Information on the Internet

World Wide Web Sites:

  1. Fasola home page
  2. Sacred Harp Singing
  3. Northeastern Ohio shape-note singing
  4. Minutes of 1995 singings

Fasola-singing mailing list

To get on the Fasola-Singing mail list, a discussion group with news of singings and singers, send email to with the following command in the body of your email message: Subscribe fasola-singing your name For example, Subscribe fasola-singing David Ivey

1997 Huntsville Singing Report

by David Ivey

We have been blessed with a good short history of singing in Huntsville. With a mix of traditional singers, who had migrated to Huntsville from other points in Alabama, and singers new to the Sacred Harp tradition, we set out on a singing journey in the early 1980s at the urging of Joyce and Jap Walton of Pisgah, Alabama (Sand Mountain). Joyce and Jap had conducted a very successful singing school at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (in 1982, I believe) with an excellent turnout of about fifty people per session, most totally new to Sacred Harp. It was natural following that school to start regular singings here.

First, we had monthly night singings. After a couple of years, we were ready to step up to trying an all day singing. We secured the church building at Burritt Museum as our singing location, and selected a Saturday in early May as our date. This selection was important because, at that time, the church had no electricity, and therefore, no heating or air conditioning. (The church building now has both, and we have four night singings during the year. But there is still not a stitch of upholstery or curtains in the all wood building.)

In addition to our annual all day singings, we hosted the United Convention in 1989 and the Young People's Singing in 1996.

Singers from all across North Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia have supported us through the years, as have our friends from other points throughout the country. This support is the key ingredient to the success of the Huntsville singing, as it is for so many singings.

This year's singing, I believe, was the strongest, best balanced sound that we've ever had. The tenor section was exceptional. (With almost a full row of Ballinger men, how could it be otherwise?) As you can see by the minutes which follow, we were fortunate to have singers with us from St. Louis, Minnesota, Indiana, Gum Pond, Lookout Mountain, Sand Mountain, Gadsden, Jacksonville, Chicago, Nashville, Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Kentucky, Fayette, Oneonta, Birmingham, and others.

This was the first of our thirteen singings that Virgil Phillips had missed. He may have been the only other person besides myself who had been at all of the previous twelve. And he brought lunch for most of them in addition to driving over 70 miles. We missed Virgil and Ruby.

Thanks to all who came. We invite you all for our 1998 annual singing or whenever you can join us.

1997 Huntsville Singing Minutes

Burritt Museum, May 3, 1997

The thirteenth annual Huntsville Sacred Harp Singing was held on Saturday, May 3 in the Madison Church building on the grounds of Burritt Museum and Park. Burritt Museum is located atop Monte Sano Mountain, the second highest elevation in Alabama. Lomax Ballinger, Chairman, called the class to order leading song on page 49b. Sam Jones led the morning prayer. The class organized by selecting the following officers: Mark Carroll, Vice Chairman; Teresa Ballinger, Secretary; Linton Ballinger, Arranging Committee. Lomax Ballinger continued the singing by leading song on page 101t. Leaders: Vice Chairman Mark Carroll 448b, 144; Secretary Teresa Ballinger 78; Sam Jones 179; Gary Leopold 159; David Ivey 283 in honor of Estelle Napier; Edwin Ballinger 477; Bill Shrader 72b; Amanda Ballinger 200; Rodney Ivey 299; Jenny Willard 163t; S.T. Reed 35; Emily Ballinger 171; Loyd Ivey 424; Shelbie Sheppard 216; Dave Ressler 411; Pam Wilkerson 203; Frances Jones and Donald Jones 147t; Judy Caudle 186; David Ballinger 59; Lora Cargo 454; Rex Wilks 137; Karen Isbell 224; Lavaughn Ballinger 45t.


Linton Ballinger called the class together leading song on page 189. Leaders: Jeff Sheppard 392; Linda Thomas 217; Jerry Enright and David Ivey 42; Norma Latham 480; Don Bowen 548; Wilda Holmes 39b; Myra Dalton 332; Thomas Willard 274t; Beth Odell 546; Sam Sommers 386; Ruth Brown 155; Bud Oliver 406; Nancy Thompson 77t; Gary Gronau 362; Tina Leopold 84; Allison Ivey 134; Alan Jones 312b; Becky Browne 181; Gravis Ballinger 34b; Syble Adams 66; Willard Hopper and Judy Caudle 448t; Judy Mincey 368; Keith Willard 297; Earl Ballinger 177; Arvid Holmes 383.


The afternoon session was called together with Chairman Lomax Ballinger leading song on page 168. Leaders: Mark Carroll 142; Buddy Ballinger 343b; Coy Ivey 475; Carrie Ann Wilkerson 354b; Glen Harper 40; Bob Meek 236; Tory Odell 108t; Dennis George 68b; Michelle Cull 209; Larry Ballinger 232; J.L. Hopper 553; Mark Taylor 143; Buell Cobb 72t; Lee Rogers 446; Steve Shearon 65; David Carlton 81t; H.A. Godsey 436; Syble Adams 350; Sam Sommers 415; Jenny Willard 303b; Becky Browne 215; Jerry Enright 300; Donald Jones 100; Coy Ivey 222; J.L. Hopper 198; Judy Mincey 497; Bob Meek 269; Steven Shearon 551; Beth Odell 196; Dave Ressler 192; Jeff Sheppard 352. Following the announcements, Chairman Lomax Ballinger and Vice Chairman Mark Carroll led song on page 62, and the class was dismissed with prayer by Lavaughn Ballinger.

Chairman, Lomax Ballinger
Vice Chairman, Mark Carroll
Secretary, Teresa Ballinger

Announcements Received

[ See the 1998 Directory/Minutes for a Complete Listing ]

Please send your news, announcement, or article for the newsletter to David Ivey, 16021 Deaton Drive, Huntsville, AL 35803; or email to

[ Contents | Sacred Harp Singing | Warren Steel | Music Dept. | UM Home ]