The annual North Carolina Sacred Harp Convention is expanding to two days this year, featuring one day of singing in Raleigh (Saturday, March 4) and a second day of singing in Durham on Sunday, March 5! Learn more about the program on Saturday, March 4 in Raleigh
Sacred Harp singing is the largest surviving branch of what is known as traditional American shape note singing. Singers in this tradition sing without accompaniment and sit arranged by vocal part in a “hollow square,” facing one another across the square and taking turns at leading from the middle of the square.
On Sunday, March 5, songs will be sung from the book The Shenandoah Harmony, now in its second printing since its release in mid-February 2013.
The Shenandoah Harmony is a new shape-note songbook with a concentration on Shenandoah Valley music of the early 19th century. At 469 songs on 480 pages, The Shenandoah Harmony is the largest new book of its kind published in more than 150 years.
The original inspiration for The Shenandoah Harmony was to create a tunebook that included the best of the shape-note songs collected, printed, and published by Ananias Davisson from 1816 to 1826 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Davisson’s works, Kentucky Harmony and A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony, combine European congregational hymns and New England singing-school repertoire with the frontier sound of arranged folk hymns and camp meeting songs. They had a profound influence on later tunebooks, including the popular shape-note book The Sacred Harp.
You can learn more about the history of The Shenandoah Harmony and order it the Shenandoah Harmony website.
On both days of the Convention, the songbook in use will be available, both for loan and for sale.
Both days will also feature a potluck “dinner on the grounds” lunch option, or you can dine out on your own during the lunch break.
And don’t forget, the shape note singers meet on the second Sunday of each month at the First Presbyterian Church in Durham from 2-4 p.m., and on the fourth Sunday of each month at the historic Mordecai Chapel in Raleigh from 1:50-3:50 p.m., keeping alive this unique a cappella singing tradition! You can learn more about local shape note singing programs and opportunities via the NC Shape Note website.