Introducing Vol. 6, No. 2 of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter

The thirteenth issue of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter shares Sacred Harp’s long history in Mississippi as well as the story of its more recent arrival in Illinois. It features tributes to departed friends and offers new insights on Sacred Harp harmony and how songs’ music and texts work together.

Printable version of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 2 (6 MB PDF).

Our issue begins with David Warren Steel’s “preliminary history” of shape-note singing in Mississippi. Marginalized in accounts of Sacred Harp’s story that have frequently centered on Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, shape-note singing’s rich history in Mississippi spans notation systems, genres, regions, and races. Next, Janet Fraembs details how she and others in downstate Illinois discovered Sacred Harp singing around 1980 and, with a generous assist from Hugh McGraw, established the Illinois State Convention, now in its thirty-third year. Three tributes memorialize recently departed singers who received the Sacred Harp Publishing Company’s posthumous citation. David Ivey’s remembrance of Toney Smith, with whom he served on the music committee that revised The Sacred Harp: 1991 Edition, reveals a devoted “singer, leader, teacher, organizer, reviser, and encourager.” Karen Rollins honors B. M. Smith, whose “loving, caring spirit was evident to all he met.” Finally, Rebecca Over offers a tribute to Earlis McGraw, a behind-the-scenes worker for Sacred Harp, stalwart treble singer, and warm and welcoming friend to many. Kathy Williams follows these tributes recounting lessons she learned from her “Sacred Harp elders,” friends who influenced her singing and her life. Next, two writers share new analyses of Sacred Harp harmony and part-writing. Robert T. Kelley illuminates the harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic factors that make an “effective pairing of text and tune” in Sacred Harp songs. David Wright focuses on one particular discord that appears in multiple Sacred Harp tunes to illustrate how composers incorporate this distinctive feature of Sacred Harp music into their songwriting. Finally, Alison Brown draws on her experience as a conservator and leader of popular workshops at Camp Doremi to share advice and step-by-step instructions for repairing common forms of damage to songbooks.

With this issue, Elaena Gardner, an Australian Sacred Harp singer who joined the Newsletter team in 2015, is stepping away to pursue a master’s degree in information management. Elaena designed the printable PDF version of the Newsletter and supervised our print layout and design for our first twelve issues. Elaena’s service has helped make the Newsletter accessible to singers who find the print version easier to use than the online version, helping connect these singers to our growing international community of which she is a part. It has been a delight working with Elaena over the past three years. If you are interested in helping with the print and web layout of the Newsletter, please get in touch. We also continue to welcome your comments and suggestions of future article topics.

Vol. 6, No. 2 Contents

Newsletter Team

  • Editor: Jesse P. Karlsberg
  • Associate Editor: Nathan K. Rees
  • Design: Leigh Cooper and Jesse P. Karlsberg

About Jesse P. Karlsberg

Jesse P. Karlsberg is the vice president of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company. He edits the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter. Born in Boston, he lives in Atlanta and is senior digital scholarship strategist at Emory University.

About Nathan Rees

Nathan Rees is a member of the Board of Directors of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company and associate editor of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter. Originally from Utah, he lives in Carrollton, Georgia, where he is assistant professor of art history at the University of West Georgia.
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