Note: There are now on the Web amateur audio and/or video recordings of the singing of every or nearly every tune in The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition. There are at least four places (probably more) where links to these recordings are indexed according to tune page number or tune name:
- Index to Recordings on Robert Stoddard's BostonSing.org website.
- Les Chants du Denson 1991 (The Songs of Denson 1991) on the Sacred Harp Auvergne (France) website.
- Fasola Minutes apps for iOS and Android smart phones (See chapter 2 for descriptions)
- Berkley Moore's Shape Note Recordings Index last updated in 2012 and not limited to tunes in The Sacred Harp.
Additional field recordings available only by audio streaming on the Internet are listed in Chapter 4 on Internet Resources rather than in this chapter.
Note on organization: Although this chapter could be organized according to tunebook tradition, the compiler has elected to list recordings less systematically, partially because some recordings feature singing from multiple tunebooks, and partially in order to promote interest in all of the singing traditions. The order of presentation of recordings is somewhat haphazard and does not reflect a judgment of quality. Newer recordings of interest and/or novelty tend to be added near the beginning of the list.
"Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp, The Original Soundtrack" produced by Matt Hinton. This recording contains 24 popular songs from The Sacred Harp (1991 Edition) sung by large, very strong classes of traditional singers at either the June 2005 singing at the Holly Springs Church in Bremen, GA or the July 2005 singing at the Liberty Baptist Church at Henagar, AL. Most of the songs were used for the soundtrack of the "Awake, My Soul" DVD (see Chapter 9), which ideally should be seen before buying the CD. It is sold with a second CD, "Help Me to Sing: Songs of the Sacred Harp," a collection of arrangements described in Chapter 8. The two CD set is accompanied by a very attractive 36-page brochure containing liner notes by Matt Hinton and Tim Eriksen, interesting historic photographs of singings, song attributions and texts, and a few scores. If the Store button on the website is inoperative, the product is most likely sold out. Mr. Hinton has been working on a future reissue. Used copies may be occasionally advertised on Amazon.com at higher prices.
FaSoLaMix, an iOS app with recordings of traditional Sacred Harp singing and the capability of manipulating the mix of the four parts for learning and fun. This app for iPhones, iPads, and iPods was developed in 2018 by Mark Godfrey with Matt Hinton and Matt Goldman and features the singing of songs from The Sacred Harp (Denson revisions and 1991 Edition) by a top-notch class of traditional singers from Alabama and Georgia, singing at the Liberty Baptist Church in Henegar, AL. In addition to listening with all voice parts balanced, one can select one part to play "solo" at full volume while reducing or muting the other parts. Alternatively, one can control the relative volume of any of the four parts for different purposes, such as to hear how two of the four parts harmonize in isolation from the other two, or to mute one part and sing that part while listening to the other three. The app has two interfaces. One is a visual representation of the hollow square with a marker that one can drag around to different spots. The other interface is similar to a usual audio mixer. One can independently change the pitch and tempo of the singing to a limited extent. As of November 2019, 24 songs are included in the app, with future "song packs" envisioned. Energetic and intricate fuging tunes, particularly Southern ones published in the Denson editions before 1991, are well represented, making this app a learning tool suitable for singers more advanced than beginners. The price is $14.99 from the Apple App Store. All proceeds from the sale of this app will be donated to the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association.
"Heavenly Land," sung by a quintet of Camp Fasola teachers, is a CD of 20 selections from The Sacred Harp 1991 Edition in memory of Jeff and Shelbie Sheppard, who were exceptionally dedicated singers and founding directors of Camp Fasola. The singers on this informally recorded CD are Richard Ivey, Jonathon Smith, Nathan Rees, Cassie Allen, and Jesse P. Karlsberg. The CD (and/or downloadable mp3 audio files) are obtained by making a contribution to the Camp Fasola Youth Scholarships (Sheppard Scholarships). Click here to obtain more information.
Southern Field Recordings by Nathan Rees. Mr. Rees has digitally recorded many of the shape note singings he has attended since 2013. He has placed tracks of individual songs from some of these singings on his website for free downloading. Although the majority of the singings are from The Sacred Harp 1991 Edition, there are some from The Sacred Harp Revised Cooper Edition, The Christian Harmony and The New Harp of Columbia. Currently the website has no explanatory information, presumably because Mr. Rees's intended audience is his singing friends. Tracks are generally labeled by the tune's page number rather than title, but in some cases the songs are not identified at all.
Downloadable recordings of Ireland Sacred Harp Conventions. Streaming audio files of most songs sung at every Ireland Convention from the first in 2011 through the tenth in 2020 are available for listening and downloading on the Cork Sacred Harp Bandcamp site. One can purchase digital albums of entire conventions.
Downloadable recordings of London All-Day Sacred Harp and Christian Harmony Singings. The UK Sacred Harp singers recorded all-day singings in 2013-2015 and have made individual songs and entire albums available for downloading. Individual songs can be downloaded at no charge in mp3 format. Albums, each featuring 60-79 songs from an entire day of singing, can be purchased and downloaded in not only mp3 format but also in several superior lossless formats through Bandcamp software.
"In Bethlehem City," CD of Christmas songs sung at the 2013 Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) All-Day Shenandoah Harmony Singing. This is a free downloadable CD produced by Rachel Hall, who describes it as follows: "Many of the songs are old standbys like STAR IN THE EAST, but there are also recordings of compositions or arrangements by Bruce Randall, John Brode, James P. Page, and the Glen Rock Carolers, from a living English-Pennsylvanian tradition. There's also the first-ever recording of James P. Carrell's CHRISTMAS ANTHEM from the newly-discovered Songs of Zion (1821) plus George Miller's VOICE TO THE SHEPHERDS, from an obscure Dayton, Oh. tunebook (1833), and several other lesser known carols." There is also a track of traditional Sacred Harper Tollie Lee singing STAR IN THE EAST solo as he learned it in Hoboken, GA. The webpage describing this recording has the streaming-audio playlist of all tracks and instructions for burning an audio CD.
"I Belong to This Band: 85 Years of Sacred Harp Recordings" This CD, released in late 2006 by Georgians Lance Ledbetter of Dust-to-Digital Records and Matt Hinton, coproducer of the film "Awake My Soul," is a remarkable compilation of recordings by traditional Sacred Harp singers from the first ones in 1922-28 to 2006. The earlier singing groups, who recorded on 78 rpm's and are here represented by 17 interesting and varied remastered tracks, are Original Sacred Harp Choir (1922, TX?), Denson's Sacred Harp Singers and Quartet (1928, AL), Alabama Sacred Harp Singers (1928), Huggins and Phillips Sacred Harp Singers (1928, AL), Daniels-Deason Sacred Harp Singers (1928, AL), Lee Wells and His Jasper Alabama Sacred Harp Singers (1930), Denson-Parris Sacred Harp Singers (1934), Roswell Sacred Harp Quartet (1955, GA), and notably S. Whitt Denson singing all four parts and playing the piano (1960). The recording also contains 13 tracks from the 2006 Henegar-Union Convention on Sand Mountain in Henegar, AL, a very strong singing depicted in "Awake My Soul;" Accompanying the recording is a 16-page booklet containing an excellent essay and notes on each track by Prof. Warren Steel. Long-time traditional singers Amanda Denson Brady, Richard DeLong, and William L. Green contributed historical information. This recording is remarkable and probably unique for interspersing and contrasting the relatively gentle, often polished, and intimate singing styles of the older recordings, which sometimes feature piano accompaniment, with the full-voiced a cappella singing of the large 2006 convention class. Several interesting photos of Sacred Harp singings are presented in the booklet and on the CD jacket. The album is currently out of stock, but tracks can be downloaded from Dust-to-Digital's Bandcamp site.
"The Owen Family: A Heritage of Singing." The extended Owen family is a prominent family of Sacred Harp singers in Texas. One member of the family, Beverly Coates, describes a 2-CD set of recordings issued in 2006:
"In March 2006 the family of Curtis and Edith Owen of McMahan, Texas [21 singers in all] met at the home of Tom and Mary Ann Owen and, with the help of a recording professional, recorded a 2-CD set of shape note music. In doing so, the children of Curtis and Edith Owen want to share their rich heritage of singing and to provide a lasting tribute to their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who have sung and supported Sacred Harp music for over 100 years in Texas. The first CD includes Sacred Harp selections from both the Denson and Cooper revisions of the Sacred Harp and "The Blind Girl" from the James Revision, which was the first song our dad led at the age of six, some eighty years ago. The second CD includes more Sacred Harp tunes and several 7-note hymns and gospel songs. It also features four clips from an Owen family recording made at our grandparents' home in 1957, which includes singing by our grandparents, Odus and Mary Elizabeth Owen and their brothers and sisters. We follow each 1957 clip with a 2006 rendition of the same song."
The recordings have been highly praised by Sacred Harp singers for remarkable tightness and clarity of the four singing parts. The price of the CD set is $15.00 plus $2.50 for shipping. Make checks made payable to Owen Family and send orders to Beverly Coates at 11525 FM 86, Lockhart TX 78644.
Recordings of songs from The Missouri Harmony, 2005 Edition, recorded live by the St. Louis Shape Note Singers. This webpage contains links to mp3 audio files of all songs in this tunebook, which is described in Chapter 1.
"More Songs from The Missouri Harmony 2005 Edition" As described on the website of the St. Louis Shape Note Singers: "Recorded at the 2010 Missouri Convention, this recording contains 37 tunes from the 2005 edition not found on the previous two CDs, sung by a wonderful class of singers, including many from Virginia, Pennsylvania and a great crowd of Southern and Midwestern singers. This recording is dedicated to the memory of Jeanette Lowry." Complete mp3 files can be downloaded without charge from a page on the website.
"Nearer Home: Singing from the J.L. White Edition of the Sacred Harp" recorded by John Lamb. This single CD-R contains 26 lessons (songs) from the September 18, 2005 singing from the J.L. White 1911 Edition of the Sacred Harp held at Hardeman Primitive Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia. This church is home to the only currently known singings from this previously long out-of-print version of the Sacred Harp (but reprinted in 2007). Six songs from the recording can be heard online on a Voices Across America webpage. To order, send $14.00 plus $2.00 for shipping/handling to John Lamb, 7426 Hydrus Dr., Harrison, TN 37341.
"Brighter Scenes: Harmonia Sacra Singing from Mauck Chapel" John Lamb, who produced this CD writes: "This recording contains 28 songs from the Harmonia Sacra recorded at the Mauck Chapel singing in Hamburg, Virginia on August 6, 2006. More than 200 singers packed the ancient log chapel to raise their voices in song on a blisteringly hot day. This long running annual singing is one of about nine held from the Harmonia Sacra held each year in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The Harmonia Sacra tradition, as practiced in the Shenandoah Valley, differs from practices of other shape note traditions. Singers sit in family groups rather than by part. Shapes are used occasionally in pitching only, and the pace of singing is slower than in other traditions. All verses of songs are sung. The result is a completely different flavor of singing from those of other currently practiced traditions. The CD includes an introduction to the Harmonia Sacra tradition, a brief history of the chapel, and song notes." Audio samples are online at Pilgrim Productions. The CD had been available through CDBaby, which discontinued is music store in 2020. For more information, contact John Lamb at secondmdus-at-att-dot-net.
"Joyfully Onward I Move: Harmonia Sacra Singing from Elkhart, Indiana," recorded by John Lamb. This recording presents 23 songs from the January 1, 2006 Harmonia Sacra singing at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. There is an accompanying insert with song notes and an introduction to the Harmonia Sacra tradition. Mr. Lamb states, "The sound heard on this recording is a mix of traditional Shenandoah Valley singing practices with those of the Sacred Harp tradition." The CD had been available through CDBaby, which discontinued is music store in 2020. For more information, contact John Lamb at secondmdus-at-att-dot-net.
"Music from the Sacred Harp by the Wootten Family from Sand Mountain, Alabama." Terry and Sheila Wootten have reissued on CD a recording originally released in 1982 on LP and have included several songs not on the LP. The CD contains 24 songs from the Denson, Cooper, and J.L. White Sacred Harp tunebooks, plus a closing prayer. The liner notes from the LP are included with minor updating. Proceeds from sales of this recording will be used by the Woottens for the care of their oldest living family member. One can purchase copies of the CD at singings attended by the Woottens in northeast Alabama and northwest Georgia, or one can send a $20 check or money order to Terry or Sheila Wootten, 3342 County Road 141, Ider, AL 35981.
"Traditional Musics of Alabama, Vol. 3: 2002 National Sacred Harp Singing Convention." This professionally produced CD recording contains 32 songs sung by the very large class at the 23rd National Sacred Harp Convention on June 14, 2002 in Birmingham, AL. It was recorded, produced, and digitally mastered by Steve Grauberger of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture. Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of this recording is the 30-page liner booklet written by historian and Sacred Harp authority John Bealle, who attended some of the early National Conventions, along with numerous photos taken by Steve Grauberger. The notes feature an authoritative essay on the history of the National Convention and a track list which provides impressively detailed information about the author of each text and the composer and history of each tune, as well as some information about the song leaders. The liner booklet can be downloaded as a pdf file. The price of the CD is $12.00 per CD plus shipping. Order online.
Audio recordings produced by or associated with the Joe Beasley Memorial Foundation. These recordings are now available from the Foundation's online store. DVDs are listed in chapter 9. (More on the Foundation in chapter 15 of this guide.)
"In Sweetest Union Join": 2-CD recording of the 96th Session of the United Sacred Harp Musical Association. Janet Herman provides the following description: "This 24 bit digital recording was made at the 1999 United Sacred Harp Convention at Liberty Church, Henagar, Alabama. It features over 60 songs and spoken word excerpts from this well-attended, memorable event. The CD commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 1959 United Convention (held in nearby Fyffe) where Alan Lomax, legendary music collector and archivist for the Library of Congress, made the first stereo recording of Sacred Harp singing. More than 20 singers attended the United Conventions of both 1959 and 1999. "In Sweetest Union Join" contains a full-color booklet that pays tribute to these singers in photos and text. The booklet also includes historic photographs, including rare images of the 1959 convention taken by a reporter for the Chattanooga Times. Proceeds from the CD will benefit the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is the preservation and perpetuation of Sacred Harp singing throughout the United States. Much love and labor went into the CD and we hope you will enjoy it!" To order the CD by mail, send a check payable to SHMHA to 8021 Randall Rd., Huntsville, AL 35802. (It is no longer available on CDBaby.) The entire album and individual tracks are also available on iTunes.
"The 1999 Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention" This is a field recording of 27 songs sung at the first Western Massachusetts Convention, which has since become probably the best-attended annual Sacred Harp event in the northeast. Liner notes are by Tim Eriksen. The CD was available from CDBaby.com, which closed its music store in 2020. The entire album and individual tracks are also available from iTunes.
"Sacred Harp Singing in Western Massachusetts, 2000-2001." This CD presents a total of 30 songs, including 22 from the 2000 and 2001 Western Massachusetts Conventions, the 2000 Young People's Sing in Leyden, MA, and the 2001 Pioneer Valley Sing, as well as eight songs of "homemade recordings" from regular local Northampton and Amherst sings. The Sacred Harp singing scene in Western Massachusetts is noteworthy for the participation of many relatively young singers, who sing with a level of energy, vigor, and pulsation that is exceptional even by Sacred Harp standards. John Bayer of Dayton, OH wrote after listening to this recording: "The raw, thumping, uninhibited power and joy of this music that we love come through ... big time. You'll smile through your tears while your hearts storm the gates of heaven." The CD was available from CDBaby.com, which closed its music store in 2020. Address inquiries to WMSHC, P.O. Box 633, Northampton, MA 01061-0633. The entire album and individual tracks are also available on iTunes.
Recordings by the Wiregrass Singers of Ozark, Alabama. The Wiregrass Singers are a premier and renowned circle of African-American Sacred Harp singers. They were led by Dewey P. Williams until his death in 1995 and then by H. Japheth Jackson, son of Judge Jackson, compiler of The Colored Sacred Harp. Their main tunebooks are the Cooper Book (now called The Sacred Harp Revised Cooper Edition) and The Colored Sacred Harp. Their remarkable style of singing is characterized by strong pulsing, embellishment, and vibrato. They were featured in the Bill Moyers PBS TV program "Amazing Grace" (see Videos section).
CD Recordings of the Ohio Sacred Harp Conventions. To purchase CDs listed below, send a check or money order for $17.00 per CD plus $1.50 for postage to Shawn Fenton, 18 Sue Dr., Germantown, OH 45327-1624. If ordering more than one, the postage for each additional unit will be 50 cents. For more information, write or e-mail Shawn Fenton.
Recordings of Southern singings produced by Jerry Enright and Karen Freund. Mr. Enright and Ms. Freund produced two digitally remastered CDs of field recordings of Alabama singing of the 1960s and 1970s on their label Squirrel Hill Recordings. Mr. Enright, a cabinetmaker by trade, was a very dedicated Sacred Harp singer in the Chicago area who contributed his musical and organizational talents to singings in his area and in the South, to which he traveled frequently. The two CDs are available or digitally downloadable from CDBaby.com.
"Ten Thousand Charms," CD recording of the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers, Berea, KY. This recording issued in 2003 presents 26 traditional favorites from The Sacred Harp 1991 Edition, sung by 30 highly skilled singers from Berea, Lexington, and Louisville, KY. Recording sessions took place at the historic Union Church in Berea. The CD was professionally recorded, mastered, and manufactured. There are informative liner notes. The singing style is decidedly "choral" rather than "Appalachian." One of the singers, Bob Meek, has pointed out that this recording is ideally suited for introducing Sacred Harp music to new folks who may not be ready for field recordings. The price is $15.00 per CD plus $3.00 shipping and handling. Order from, and make checks out to, Rev. Kent Gilbert, Pastor, Union Church, C.P.O. 2105, Berea, KY 40404.
"Weep Not for Me: An Old Harp Memorial for Larry Olszewski". As described by John Lamb, this recording (79 minutes) contains 26 lessons from a singing held in conjunction with the memorial service for noted Old Harp Singer, Larry E. Olszewski, held at the Laurel Theater in Knoxville, TN on Sunday, December 18, 2005. A strong class composed of Old Harp Singers from East Tennessee, joined by Sacred Harp and Christian Harmony singers from surrounding areas, came to mourn the loss their friend, fellow singer, and the most ardent champion of Old Harp singing in recent memory. The result is the strongest recent Old Harp singing currently available on recording. This CD is professionally produced and includes songs notes and brief essays on the history of Old Harp singing and the singing experience, as well as a dedication to Larry. Also included are two short excerpts from Larry's comments to the class at the 2005 Headrick's Chapel Singing, and his solo singing of Parting Friends, his farewell to the community. It was available through CDBaby.com, but it is no longer listed there. For more information, contact John Lamb at email@example.com.
"Rise My Soul: Old Harp Singing from Wears Valley." This one-disc recording contains a selection of 31 lessons from the September 23, 2001 singing at the historic William H. Headrick Chapel in Wears Valley, just outside Townsend, TN. According to John Lamb, this recording is designed to provide the Old Harp community with an outreach tool focused toward those interested in folk music, mountain history and culture. It features a professionally designed cover, and more importantly, a lengthy insert containing essays on Old Harp singing, the singing experience, a history of the chapel, and notes on the source of each song. Price is $10.00 per copy, plus $2.00 shipping and handling. Make checks payable to John Lamb, and send orders to him at 7426 Hydrus Dr, Harrison, TN 37341. More information is on the webpage. Address inquiries to Mr. Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The Year of Jubilee is Come! Old Harp Singing from the 38th Epworth Jubilee." This single CD-R contains 24 lessons (songs) from the 38th annual Epworth Jubilee New Harp of Columbia Singing, held March 24, 2002, at the Laurel Theater in Knoxville, TN. Digital recording was by John Lamb. The webpage has a detailed track listing and list of leaders. However, the recording has been retired.
"An Introduction to the New Harp of Columbia" instructional CD, produced by Brent Cantrell and Jubilee Community Arts. Eleven Old Harp singers under the direction of Charles Barber of Knoxville, TN, recorded in 2001 seven songs from the New Harp of Columbia representing the main lyrical styles in the book. For each song, each part is sung separately (as the note syllables), and then the words are sung with all parts together. There is a narrative introduction and a field recording of one song (Rowley) from a real NHC singing (Headrick's Chapel, 2001). The price of the CD (no cassette available) is $10.00 including shipping and handling. Order from, and make checks payable to, Jubilee Community Arts, 1538 Laurel Ave., Knoxville, TN 37916-2016.
"Sand Mountain Sacred Harp Vol. 1" reissued by the Woottens. Terry and Sheila Wootten have taken a recording first released on LP and 8-track tape in 1978 and rereleased it as a CD. Ms. Wootten writes: "When we made the recording, we were just making a tape to see how it would sound. This recording was made in the Agriculture Building at Ider High School in Ider, AL. It is an old building with a very high ceiling and a wood floor. There are only fourteen of us singing.... We think that it turned out pretty good.... The wording on the CD is the same as it was on the LP cover." To order, send check or money order for $12.00 (which includes postage) to Terry or Sheila Wootten, 3342 County Rd. 141, Ider, AL 35981. For more information, e-mail the Woottens at email@example.com.
CD recording accompanying Judge Jackson and The Colored Sacred Harp by Joe Dan Boyd. According to the publisher, the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, this hardbound book tells the story of Judge Jackson of Ozark, Alabama, who in 1934 published The Colored Sacred Harp (see tunebook section), a small book of religious songs written by and for African-American shape-note singers. It continues with the formation and rise to prominence of the Wiregrass Sacred Harp Singers, led by Dewey Williams and Japheth Jackson, son of Judge Jackson. The volume contains an introduction by historian John Bealle and fifty black and white photos. It is accompanied by a CD of songs from The Colored Sacred Harp and the Cooper Revision of The Sacred Harp. The recorded songs include one made by folklorist John Work in 1938, one made by Judge Jackson and family in 1950 at a coin-operated recording booth in Dothan, and 25 others made primarily by Joe Dan Boyd (1969) but including two from Doris Dyen's tapes (1972) made during her dissertation research. The book/CD costs $30 plus shipping and may be ordered online or by phone at 251-289-0757.
Recordings of Sacred Harp (usually Cooper Revision) and Christian Harmony singings produced by Regina Foster Marshall and the La-Miss-Ala Newsletter. Ms. Marshall recorded a number of traditional singings in her area with multitrack stereo equipment. These recordings are helpful in learning songs unique to the Cooper book and Christian Harmony. The La-Miss-Ala Newsletter is no longer published. Sales of these recordings are now being handled by Mrs. Ester Mann, 572 Witsell Road, Jackson, MS 39206. The price is $10.00 for one tape or (where indicated below) CD plus $2.00 shipping, or any two tapes for $15.00 plus $2.00 shipping. Send orders, with checks payable to Ester Mann, to her at the above address.
"Sacred Harp: Hoboken, Georgia, 1996 (All-Day Sing)". The background of this recording is best expressed by David Lee of Hoboken, Georgia in the liner notes of this CD recording: "The Sacred Harp tradition in Hoboken was developed and shaped over many generations of singing without any contact or influence from the larger Sacred Harp family. Indeed, until 1994, singers in this area were under the impression that they were the only Sacred Harp singers left in the world. However David Lee and Clarke Lee attended a Sacred Harp sing in Tallahassee, FL in June, 1994 and came back reporting delight and surprise at their discovery of a large and involved Sacred Harp community that had roots in several states around the country. They, along with other members of the Lee family, began to visit other singers and, ultimately, invited the larger Sacred Harp family to visit Hoboken in return, which resulted in the all-day sing featured on this recording [the first all-day Sacred Harp sing held in this community in over 50 years]." Keith Willard digitally recorded the singing from the 1992 Revised Cooper Edition of The Sacred Harp and, with Rodney Willard and David Lee, issued in 1999 a CD presenting 24 songs, along with a review of solmization of musical scales and the closing prayer. The extensive liner notes contain a color photograph, an essay by David Lee about the history of the singing tradition in his family, and an inspiring dedication. The singing is very strong and spirited. Order from David and Kathy Lee, Rt. 1, Box 40, Hoboken, GA 31542. The price is $10.00 per copy plus postage. The Lees will determine the actual postage cost upon request; email them at dklee-at-btconline.net (change the "-at-" to "@"). All of the proceeds from sales of this record go toward supporting the Hoboken Sacred Harp singings.
"Present Joys, Blessings Past": the 1998 Potomac River Sacred Harp Singing Convention. This 2-CD set was produced by the Jim Wantland, the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, and the Washington, DC Sacred Harp singers in memory of Susan Wantland. The 1998 Potomac River Convention, which was well attended by strong singers from throughout the North and South, featured a singing school by members of the Lee Family of Hoboken, Georgia. The two CDs (each 68-70 minutes) contain a total of 52 songs, plus three spoken portions by David and Clarke Lee, and excerpts from the Memorial Lesson eulogy of Susan Wantland by fellow singer Kathy Manning. Several of the songs are from the Cooper Edition of The Sacred Harp and were led by the Lees at the singing school. Included are three relatively new tunes sung at the New Traditions Singing of the Convention. The recording was professionally recorded by Don and Dolores Nichols, and mastered by Dennis Cook. The professionally printed liner contains color photographs and an excellent essay by Mimi Stevens, which begins as follows: "Present joys and blessings past -- these words sum up the essence of Sacred Harp singing. The blessings of the past come to us in the rich store of tunes we have to sing, and in the traditions that have been handed down for generations and are preserved today as the roots and strong trunk from which new growth continually springs forth. The present joys are in the singing itself and the community it creates." The album is currently out of print. To inquire about possibly obtaining a CD-R copy, please email Miriam Kilmer at miriam-at-risingdove-dot-com.
"Glory in My Soul," recording of the 1998 Missouri Sacred Harp Convention. This CD contains 33 songs digitally recorded by Dave Harre at the 1998 Missouri Convention, which was blessed with the attendance of "the bus" of traditional singers from Alabama and Georgia. In addition to tunes from The Sacred Harp, there are several fine tunes from Missouri Harmony. An effort was made to include tunes not already on modern recordings. The CD may still be available, but complete mp3 files of each track can be downloaded at no charge from a page on the website.
Recordings from 1965-1975 by the Sacred Harp Publishing Co. reissued on CDs and Cassettes by Morning Trumpet Recordings. An historic series of LP record albums originally produced by the Sacred Harp Publishing Co. from 1965 through 1975 were reissued in the early 2000s in both CD and cassette formats. Although these were not the first recordings of Sacred Harp singing, as Buell Cobb, author of the new notes for the series, points out, they "stand above the rest in scope and consistency." The six LP albums, originally numbered 101-106, were combined into three compact discs (and three cassette tapes), each over an hour in length. In addition, a previously unpublished recording from this period was issued for the first time. Extensive sound restoration and digital remastering were performed. Five out of the six original LP recordings featured a select group of the finest traditional Sacred Harpers, many now deceased, singing representative songs in a studio under the direction of Hugh McGraw. The singing is very solid and skilled, but some listeners will miss the excitement of a live convention recording. Richard DeLong, who with Ted Mercer headed Morning Trumpet Recordings, writes, "I grew up listening to all these albums until they were worn out. In my opinion they have remained unparalleled. Newer singers today will now have the opportunity to hear and will, I hope, attempt to preserve the sound of old-time singing." The excellent graphics and booklet designs (of the first three items below) are by alto Lisa Grayson. However, the availability of these CDs is uncertain. If interested in availability, contact the Sacred Harp Publishing Co. The recordings are as follows:
"Eternal Day" is a Morning Trumpet CD containing 23 selections from two LPs (out of a total of four) released in the 1960s featuring singing by the East Central Alabama Sacred Harp Singers directed by Elder H. Roy Avery, who died in June 1999. These were studio recordings of groups of about 20 singers with an "in the square" sound. According to Ted Mercer, this group of singers kept to themselves somewhat and had an extremely cohesive sound. According to Berkley Moore, the relatively intimate sound is reminiscent of that of Denson-quartet performances on 78 rpm discs. The uncertainty of availability is the same as that described above for the other Morning Trumpet recordings.
"The Wootten Cousins: Sacred Harp Singing on Sand Mountain," recorded by Keith Willard. The extended Wootten family of Sand Mountain, Alabama, have sung Sacred Harp for generations. The singing of 80-90 members of this nationally known family was captured on digital audio tapes at a family reunion by Keith Willard in 1995. A recording produced under the direction of Terry Wootten is now available on CD-R (CDs made one at a time) and cassette formats. The recording contains 31 enthusiastically sung pieces, including a surprising number of songs with relatively sentimental texts from gospel sources, which are in the family's unpublished supplement book. The liner notes by Jim Carnes describe the Wootten family and the music. The price is $17.00 per CD and $11.00 per tape postpaid. Order from (and make checks out to) Terry Wootten, 3342 County Road 141, Ider, AL 35981.
"White Spirituals from the Sacred Harp: The Alabama Sacred Harp Convention." This recording released as compact disc in March, 1992, and as cassette tape in October, 1993, is a reissue of a classic 1977 LP of a 1959 all-day singing (actually the United Convention) in Fyffe, Alabama, recorded by the folk-musicologist Alan Lomax, using stereo recording equipment of the day. In spite of imperfections that could not be corrected in the CD, this remains one of the best field recordings, noteworthy particularly for its strong bass sound. It presents 20 songs as well as remarkable spoken portions. Noteworthy is the testimonial of the young Joyce Smith, now Joyce Walton, a prominent Alabama singer, who eloquently sums up the meaning of Sacred Harp singing. The recording captures the unabashed spirituality of an authentic Southern singing and the truly folk-derived singing style that is becoming increasingly difficult to find in contemporary singings. This was the first commercial CD of an authentic shape-note singing. However this particular New World CD is out of print, but the excellent liner notes are still on the New World Records site. An expanded version with additional songs from Lomax's master tapes of the same singing is available from Rounder Records (see item immediately below). Downloadable MP3 files of all the songs can be found in various places on the Web, most notably the Alan Lomax Archives at the Association for Cultural Equity. To search for Sacred Harp songs at this site, go to the Sound Recordings page and search for "shape note."
"Harp of a Thousand Strings: All Day Singing from The Sacred Harp," and "And Glory Shone Around: More All Day Singing from The Sacred Harp." Field recordings by Alan Lomax of the 1959 United Sacred Harp Musical Association Convention. These CDs released in January, 1998, are Vols. 9 and 10, respectively in the 13-CD series Alan Lomax's "Southern Journey" on Rounder Records. They are 20-bit digital remasterings of Lomax's recordings of the 1959 United Convention and cover more material than in the New World album "White Spirituals from The Sacred Harp" described immediately above (New World's license of the material has expired). Vol. 9 (Rounder 1709) contains 26 selections including 20 also on the New World album plus 5 additional songs and an expanded memorial lesson. Vol. 10 (Rounder 1710) contains mostly previously unreleased material in which Lomax experimented with different mikings. There are notable closing remarks by Sacred Harp composer A.M. Cagle. Each album includes Lomax's detailed liner notes and photographs of a 1941 singing in Tennessee. These CDs are no longer sold by Rounder, but used copies and mp3 downloads can now be purchased through Amazon.com.
Alan Lomax's handwritten field notes from his visit to the above singing have been imaged and are available at the online Library of Congress's Alan Lomax Collection of manuscripts. Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg reported that the relevant material is located on images 84, 86, 88, and 90.
"Sacred Harp Singing," by the Alabama Sacred Harp Singing Convention of August, 1942. Eighteen songs sung by traditional singers and recorded by George Pullen Jackson and Alan Lomax. Although the sound reproduction is poor because of limitations of the equipment of the time, the unique qualities of traditional Alabama Sacred Harp singing are clearly heard. The excellent liner notes indicate that some of the songs are led by Sacred Harp greats Paine Denson, Howard Denson, and A. Marcus Cagle. The recording had been available in LP and cassette format produced by the Archives of Folk Culture, Library of Congress (catalog No. AFS-L11). It was reissued on CD by Rounder Records (#1503) in 1997, but it is apparently out of print.
"The Social Harp: Early American Shape-Note Songs" sung by Southern traditional singers led by Hugh McGraw, (Rounder 0094). A fine 1978 LP of songs in three-part harmony from The Social Harp (1855, see Tunebook section) was reissued by Rounder Records in CD and cassette formats in 1994. One half of the record has singing-school pieces and the other half camp-meeting and revival spirituals. The 26 singers, all of them prominent Southern Sacred Harp singers (some now deceased), perform for this recording, so it is not strictly a traditional singing, but the singers and their style are definitely traditional, and they sing the notes before each song. Excellent liner notes by Daniel Patterson accompanied the original LP. The CD is no longer sold by Rounder, but used CDs and mp3 downloads of individual tracks are available from Amazon.com
"Showers of Blessings," from the 1995 Garden State Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Now available on CD as well as tape. An excellent learning and sing-along recording, the 90-minute tape, produced with real-time duplication, has 36 songs, while the CD has 33 songs. It was recorded by Bill Houston, digitally remastered for CD by Brad Higgins, produced by Jean Seiler. Proceeds support Sacred Harp singings and projects. The tape is $12.00, and the CD is $17.00 (prices include shipping). Send orders, and make checks payable, to Jean Seiler, 15 Hill Road, Stillwater, NY 12170.
"Saints Bound for Heaven." a walking recording sung by the Santa Cruz Shape Note Society. As described by Shelley Phillips, "Our local Sacred Harp group has produced a delightful studio recording of [over 30] Sacred Harp songs to accompany walking (though honestly we think it's fun to listen from the couch as well). The recording is 60 minutes long; cassette or our brand new CD! When you walk with it, if you start with your right foot on the downbeats your right hand will practice leading! The music starts at 100 beats per minute (bpm) and speeds up to 120 bpm by the beginning of the second side. Then it slows back down again towards the end for a cool down. Turn around at the end of the first side and you'll be back where you started by the end of the second side. The bible verses at the beginning of the songs are there too; read while the song is being shaped." The price is $5/cassette or $10/CD plus $2 for postage. All proceeds benefit the Community Music School of Santa Cruz. Available from CDbaby or mail order to Community Music School, P. O. Box 531, Santa Cruz, CA 95061. Individual tracks can be sampled and downloaded from Amazon.com.
In the Spirit: Alabama's Sacred Music Traditions (Booklet and audio recording), edited by Henry Willett, director of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture. This 127-page book, issued in 1995 and reissued in 2002, contains twelve interesting essays on a variety of little-known and well-known Alabama folk-religious music traditions, and is bundled with a CD (or cassette if requested) featuring examples of music described in the book. Of interest to shape-note singers are essays by Buell Cobb ("Sand Mountain's Wootten Family: Sacred Harp Singers"), Henry Willett ("Judge Jackson and the Colored Sacred Harp"), Anne H. F. Kimzey ("The Deasons: A Christian Harmony Family"), Joyce Cauthen ("Shape-Note Gospel Singing on Sand Mountain"), and Charles Wolfe ("Seven-shape-note Gospel Music in Northern Alabama.") The companion recording contains interesting examples not found elsewhere. Of particular note to shape-note singers are bands by the Wootten family (singing at home and recorded by Keith Willard), Judge Jackson leading black Sacred Harp (Cooper Revision) singers in 1938, and the Deason family. ISBN 1-881320-54-5. The price of the booklet plus CD (or cassette if requested) is $15.00 plus $2.50 shipping.