The twelfth issue of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter shares the stories of composers and singers, printers and cooks who contributed to Sacred Harp in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—some well-known and others largely forgotten. It also features the growing collection and programs of the Sacred Harp Museum.
Our issue begins with the history of Heard County, Georgia’s, oldest annual event, a June Sacred Harp singing that celebrated its 150th session this year. Karen Rollins details how perseverance, faith, and family contributed to the singing’s persistence. It and all other nineteenth-century Sacred Harp singings also relied on a distant yet robust network of music printers and publishers in Philadelphia. Rachel Wells Hall surveys the considerable impact this network had on shape-note tunebooks, extending even to the music we sing today. The issue next turns to key characters whose compositions, dishes, and outsize personalities enlivened singings in the twentieth century. Don Bowen describes the life of his father, E. C. Bowen, and how Sacred Harp singing came to “mean the world to him” after he rediscovered it late in life. Jesse P. Karlsberg discusses the songs of Alabama composer O. A. Parris, who borrowed harmonic and textural ideas freely from diverse shape-note genres to create unique music that nonetheless “feels just right in its intended source.” In this issue’s “Just a Minute” column, Nathan K. Rees unearths delectable details about the life of “Tubby” Walton, the charismatic head waiter who catered dinner at Atlanta’s 1935 United Sacred Harp Musical Association. “Queen of the Sacred Harp” Ruth Denson Edwards, in an article reprinted from a 1965 issue of the Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp News, offers a glimpse of her musical childhood home sure to trigger “vicarious nostalgia” in many readers. Two final essays highlight new donations to and programs at the Sacred Harp Museum. Nathan K. Rees details the backstory of a Sacred Harp edited by Timothy and Lowell Mason, published nine years before our beloved tunebook, that was recently donated to the museum by P. Dan Brittain. As the Sacred Harp Museum’s 2017 interns make strides in cataloging and archiving the museum’s collection and preserving digital photographs and recordings of Sacred Harp, Sasha Hsuczyk shares her experience piloting our internship program last summer.
As always, the Newsletter team welcomes your comments on these articles. We also invite your suggestion of future topics, whether you’re interested in writing or not! Please get in touch.
Vol. 6, No. 1 Contents
- “150 Years and Counting: Heard County’s Hopewell Singing,” Karen Rollins
- “Philadelphia, Birthplace of the Shapes and Center of Shape-Note Publishing,” Rachel Wells Hall (Philadelphia, PA)
- “My Dad, E. C. Bowen,” Don Bowen (Cartersville, GA)
- “Orin Adolphus Parris: At Home Across the Shape-Note Music Spectrum,” Jesse P. Karlsberg (Atlanta, GA)
- “Tubby Walton, ‘An Indispensable Head Waiter’ at the 1935 United Convention,” Nathan K. Rees (Carrollton, GA)
- “I Remember: Ruth Denson Edwards on Her Sacred Harp Childhood,” Ruth Denson Edwards (Cullman, AL)
- “From the Collection: An Earlier Sacred Harp,” Nathan K. Rees (Carrollton, GA)
- “Preserving Sacred Harp’s Past for the Future: Interning at the Sacred Harp Museum,” Sasha Hsuczyk (Philadelphia, PA)
- Editor: Jesse P. Karlsberg
- Associate editor: Nathan K. Rees
- Design (web edition): Jesse P. Karlsberg
- Design (print edition): Elaena Gardner and Leigh Cooper
- Transcription assistance: Giles Simmer