15. Museum and Foundations

The Sacred Harp Headquarters and Museum:

The Sacred Harp Headquarters and Museum are located in a building on a country road (Oak Grove Road) about 2 miles south of Carrollton, Georgia. The building, owned by the Sacred Harp Publishing Company contains offices, a meeting room for Sacred Harp Publishing Company board meetings, and rooms housing a fine and growing museum collection. This includes shape-note tunebooks ranging in age from antique to new, audio and video recordings of hundreds of singings, and memorabilia about Sacred Harp singings and singers, including minutes books for many years and scrapbooks of photographs and newspaper articles. The museum is open by appointment only. Direct inquiries as described on the webpage.

In recent years the mission of the museum has been expanded to include the preservation and digitization of all of its resources (print, audio and video) and placement of the digital copies on the Internet for posterity. Recently completed projects include the following:

"The First National Sacred Harp Singing Convention" online exhibition. To quote Nathan Rees' historical essay, "In 1980, Hugh McGraw, then Executive Secretary of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company, launched a new Sacred Harp convention to gather singers from around the entire country in a single, celebratory event. The first National Sacred Harp Convention, four days of singing at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, attracted hundreds of participants, including representatives from nearly every community of singers. The class voted to make the National Convention an annual event, and it still meets on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the third Sunday each June in Birmingham. The first National Convention ... brought together diverse singing communities in a unique program." Remarkably, it was first time that various Sacred Harp circles in different parts of the South came together for singing, fellowship, and food. The museum's collection of documents, photos, and audio recordings pertaining to the convention have been digitized and placed on the Internet. There is an excellent historical sketch by Nathan K. Rees.

Digitized version of the 1909 J. L. White Sacred Harp, Fifth Edition. To quote from the Museum curator Nathan Rees: "The 1909 Sacred Harp, Fifth Edition is the first of J. L. White's three different attempts at revising the Sacred Harp between 1909 and 1911. The book is a rarity in part because it was rejected by most Sacred Harp singers, who felt that White's modernized harmonies and added gospel music ventured too far from tradition. While a contingent of singers continues to use the 2007 version of his moderated 1911 revision, the 1909 "White book" never found sustained use at conventions." The images were prepared from a copy of the book generously donated by Charles Whitmer. A PDF (86 MB) can be downloaded from the relevant webpage.

Foundations and Related Organizations:

The Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association (SHMHA) is a 501(c)(3) non- profit organization formed for educational, cultural, and historical purposes, and specifically for the preservation and study of the tradition of Sacred Harp singing including the musical literature, history, and traditional singing practices, and the encouragement of singing schools, singings, and singing conventions. The SHMA is responsible for the publication, printing, and distribution of the Directory and Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings (see chapters 2 and 3). Its recent and current projects include recordings of Sacred Harp conventions and Camp Fasola. SHMHA accepts tax-deductible contributions to support these and other future projects to promote Sacred Harp singing. For more information and to make a contribution, contact The Association at 8021 Randall Road, Huntsville, AL 35802.

Sheppard Scholarships: Camp Fasola Youth Scholarships were established 2013 to enable young people to attend Camp Fasola and to honor the memory of Jeff and Shelbie Sheppard, who were founders and leaders of the SHMHA and Camp Fasola as well as exceptionally dedicated Sacred Harp singers. Donors will receive token gifts of appreciation in accordance with their contribution level. Click here for detailed information.
Oliver Kindig-Stokes Scholarship. Camp Fasola is establishing a youth scholarship in memory of beloved singer and five-time youth camper Oliver Kindig-Stokes who died tragically in 2015 at the age of 22. His love for Sacred Harp singing inspired many people, young and old, who sang with him. Instructions for how to donate to the scholarship fund are found on the webpage.

The Joe Beasley Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization created to support the growth and appreciation of Sacred Harp music and shape-note singing and to raise money to assist those involved in such music. Mr. Joe Beasley, a native of Winfield, AL, grew up in the Sacred Harp singing tradition but lived most of his life in New York City. He fostered Sacred Harp singing in the Northeast but died unexpectedly in 1995. According to the Foundation's website, its activities include assistance for struggling or new Sacred Harp/Shape-Note singing groups, singing schools, and college-level scholarships to assist with the financial needs of deserving students involved in Sacred Harp music and Shape-Note Music. It has an online store to sell recordings, books, and videos sponsored by the Foundation. For more information, check the website and contact Joe Beasley Memorial Foundation Inc., 431 Woodland Rd., Bessemer, AL 35020, or e-mail joebeasleymemorialfoundation@gmail.com.

Steven L. Sabol (sabol@his.com)
HTML version by Warren Steel (mudws@olemiss.edu)