Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mini Singing School at 1 PM and Regular January Singing at 1:30 on Sunday...

Update: 1/21/16 - Just a couple of quick updates. We had 31 singers at the January 10th Mini-Singing School and Monthly Singing in the Country Store. Thanks to Nancy Price from the Oklahoma City Sacred Harp Singers for helping us with "singing the notes" and warming everyone up for the regular singing that followed. 

Nancy also asked that I remind everyone that Texas has a singing on January 30, 2016. The William J. Reynolds Sacred Harp Singing will be held in Cowden Hall, at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1809 West Broadus, Fort Worth, Texas, starting at 9:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M. Singing will be from The Sacred Harp, 1991 edition. Lunch will be dutch treat. For more info: (817) 923-1921, ext. 3100. I've also added a link to the full Texas singing calendar in the Online Resources section of the sidebar.


Hope all of you are having a Happy New Year and are ready to sing on Sunday, January 10th, in the Country Store on the grounds of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale. The starting time will be a little different on Sunday. Nancy Price has offered to teach a mini singing school to help any new (or older) singers with the notes, something that's been on the group's wish list for a while. Thus we'll start the short singing school at 1:00 P.M. and then conduct the regular January singing from 1:30 P.M. until 4:00 P.M., our usual time. Thanks to Nancy for volunteering to help our group with singing the notes.

Photo: Singing in the country store on December 13, 2015.

In other business, Dan Brittain received a note from Amanda Pritchett, who works with the Oklahoma Historical Society and the George M. Murrell Home in Park Hill, Oklahoma (just outside Tahlequah). They will be holding their first annual Antique Agriculture Festival on October 7-9, 2016. I'll bring some copies of her note to the Sunday meeting for discussion but to strike a match to warm up your thinking:
  +  First of all, there might be a way this event could help promote the singers and Sacred Harp groups in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
  +  With sufficient notice, we could possibly move our regular October 9th singing or sing on October 8th if that works better for everyone and supports the Oklahoma organizations and singing groups.
  +  We could also mention our NWA Fall Sacred Harp Singing Convention on Saturday, October 22nd.

Katy and I attended the open house and festivities at the historic Peter Conser House near Heavener, OK, each year.  Katy enjoyed looking at the quilts and I always enjoyed the blacksmith displays and looking at the old tractors and antique automobiles in the field behind the house. In any case, there is an invitation on the table and an opportunity that might benefit our Oklahoma neighbors. If you have any ideas, thoughts or suggestions and cannot make the Shiloh Singing on Jan. 10th, please send me a note so we can include your ideas in the discussion.

The Shiloh Museum is conducting an Early Spring Cleaning in the Country Store. There's more "stuff" in the store's closet than will fit on the shelves or in the bathroom closet. We plan to request space for our 3 boxes of song books and the large banner and hanger Gail Cowart built for the front porch that we use on days we sing in the store. The museum will continue to maintain a 12 cup coffee maker but each group will need to bring their own coffee, cups and other supplies. My thought is to put the singer's coffee break supplies in plastic bags (for freshness) together with our name tags, pens, handouts, and sign-in sheets all together in one easy to store and move plastic box. With all the groups helping that should free up more space and reduce clutter for the museum and all the groups using the store. Please let us know if you have something you want to keep that we haven't mentioned so we can preserve it for you on Sunday.

And two more things... In view of the early 1 P.M. start of the mini singing school, we'll plan to arrive for lunch between 11:30 and 11:45 at the world famous AQ Chicken House in Springdale. All are invited to join us, just ask at the reception desk and they'll point you in the right direction.

Sunday's weather may be a little brisk for Arkansas natives or downright chilly for transplanted Floridians like me. The National Weather Service forecast is for "mostly sunny" but cold. I'll just wear my "Little Abner" boots and Maine socks and we will all look forward to singing with you on Sunday in the country store. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

We'll be singing at the General Store on Sunday, December 13th

This may be the shortest reminder I've posted this year, but it seems that the Christmas season has arrived and everything needs to be done at the same time! One of the things I hope you've put on your to-do list is joining the rest of the Shiloh Singers at the Shiloh Museum's General Store on Sunday afternoon, December 13th, from 1:30 until 4:00 P.M. There are songs to sing and good friends to join to celebrate the last monthly singing of 2015. 

It's been a great year for the singers. Thanks to all of the Shiloh Singers, the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History and staff, guest instructors at our annual singing school and all our visitors and other guests to helped make it such a great year. Best wishes to the singers in Oklahoma and South Central Arkansas for the New Year. We hope to see you again in 2016.

Those who attend on Sunday are also invited to bring a few extra Christmas cookies, fruitcake, or other special desserts for the break. And for those who still need to shop for that special someone, the large shopping malls to the north, south and near Springdale will still be open after the singing.

As always, the any early arrivals are still welcome to join us at AQ Chicken House in Springdale around noon on Sunday before the singing. Just ask for the singers at the front desk. Visitors and friends are always welcome to join us at our Sunday singings and sing some of the Christmas songs at this special time of the year. Hope to see you there.

"God made time so that we don't have to do it all in one day."
Strato Telvely, 1988

Friday, November 6, 2015

November singing, Fall Singing Convention was "large in sound and spirit"...

As too often seems to be the case, each time I want to write a newsletter, other projects and events suddenly appear to soak up time on my calendar. I wrote a friend earlier this week that I used to maintain a paper calendar with pencil entries so I could make frequent updates and changes. Now I use a computer-based calendar program and I still can't adjust plans and schedule changes fast enough to keep up. In any case, I hope your busy schedule allows you to plan to attend the Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015 monthly singing in the Shiloh Museum General Store. As usual, the singing will start at 1:30 P.M. Singing will continue until 4:00 P.M. and visitors are always welcome. Loaner books are usually available. Children, who are considered "potential new singers," are welcome too.

Photo - Robert Vaughn leads the NWA Fall Singing School at the Shiloh Museum on Friday evening, October 23rd.

The NWA Fall Sacred Harp Singing Convention on Oct. 23rd and 24th was declared a "great success." Thanks to Robert Vaughn, from Mt. Enterprise, Texas, who led the Friday night singing school with 25 participants in the museum's General Store and Stanley Smith, from Ozark, Alabama who with Robert shared their experience with the singing school and convention participants on Saturday in the First Security Bank's Community Room across the street from the museum, we had two enthusiastic singing sessions. Both Texas and Alabama have many traditional Sacred Harp groups and communities where there is a strong tradition of shape note singings. Stanley noted that Syd Caldwell had done "a great job as chairman" making sure  all the singers and visitors had a great time. Besides complimenting Robert for planting more seeds in the minds of interested new singers, Stanley wrote that the Saturday convention "was large in sound and spirit.  

Photo - Normally photographers are behind the camera, but Stanley Smith invited NWA Democrat-Gazette photographer Flip Putthoff to experience the sound from the center of the square.

Reporter Laurinda Joeks and photographer Flip Putthoff of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette had an excellent feature article in the paper's Saturday October 31, 2015 Religion section. The article and pictures contain more details that capture the spirit and enthusiasm from the school and singing. The article can be found at: 

Thanks to the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History and their staff for helping with so many details including directional signs and their General Store on Friday evening. Thanks also to the First Security Bank in Springdale for the use of their Community Room which had enough space for the singing and enough extra space for dining tables to hold all the singers and the food that appeared for the pot-luck lunch at noon. Our thanks to all the cooks who prepared a marvelous variety of dishes and plenty of desserts for the event.

Photo - There was plenty of food, including desserts, at the Fall Convention. Thanks to all who prepared their best dishes for the event. 

Thanks also to all the participants who joined us from Oklahoma, Missouri, and all over Arkansas. We hope you enjoyed the singing and will come back and sing with us again. 

Lost and Found: At the end of the Saturday singing, a red spiral notebook was found that had Gail Cowart's name and address on the inside cover. During the cleanup and exodus, the notebook found its way to Gail's car with signs, banners and songbooks. He returned the notebook commenting that the handwriting was "much too neat" to be his writing. If you attended the convention and are now missing a red spiral notebook, we'll have it at the Sunday afternoon singing, Nov. 8th, or send me your address via email so we can mail you your notebook. 

One more thing: If you can get there in time, there's usually a table for Shiloh Singers at the Springdale location of the AQ Chicken House around noon on each Sunday before the singing begins in the General Store each month. It's totally informal. There's time to "fuel up" for the singing plus time to catch up on news with friends or ask questions about Sacred Harp singing. Just ask the reception desk for directions to the table.

Hope you have time to sing with the Shiloh Singers on Sunday afternoon.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Shape Note Oklahoma hosts a singing and singing school. NWA Sacred Harp Convention and School on October 23 and 24... And we were singing on Sunday!

Updated: 10/20/15 - NWA Fall Singing Convention and Singing School is this Friday and Saturday!  

For those of you too young to remember Will Rogers, from our neighboring state of Oklahoma, he once spoke about organizations. He said. "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."

Without going any further into any political swamp, I always get the same feeling about not quite being organized a few days before the Shiloh Singers big Fall Singing Convention and Singing School. Is there anything that we missed. Who's working on signs? Who's bringing food for the pot luck dinner? More important, who's bring desserts or cookies or donuts for breaks? But the sun rises on the appointed day. Rain or shine, the parking lot fills with cars, old and new singers file into the meeting room and as if by some grand design, all the pieces fall into place and we have one of the best singings of the year. So at this late date all I can do is hope and pray all those expressions of "It's gonna be great!" come true as the loose pieces fall into place.

Just in case some of our out-of-town guests have never been to the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, I spent a few minutes with Google Maps to give people an idea of where we're meeting and where people can park on Friday and Saturday.

We'll also try to remember to print up a few extra copies of the map for those who go to the main door of the museum or general store on Saturday morning. We don't want anyone to miss a minute of the singing and fellowship that is shared at the NWA Fall Sacred Harp Singing Convention. It's a fine tradition and "It's gonna be great!"

October 11th Singing at the Museum - The Shiloh Singers enjoyed the company of 25 singers at the Sunday afternoon singing in the General Store. We were also visited by "Mr. T" the neighborhood cat, who doesn't sing but occasionally poses for pictures with children and visitors.

Well done Shape Note Oklahoma singers for hosting a wonderful singing school and afternoon of singing on September 26th. Katy and I were on our way to Yellowstone, but Syd Caldwell sent us a sample of the singing via cell phone, later sent several pictures from the event, and a glowing report on the school and singing. Sounds like everyone had a good time.

Dan Brittain leads the singers at the First Lutheran Church in Tulsa, OK on Sept. 26, 2015 singing school.

Singers at the Tulsa event enjoy lunch and fellowship during the noon break.
For more information and pictures from the Tulsa event, check out the Oklahoma group's Facebook page at:

The Shiloh Sacred Harp Singers of Northwest Arkansas will host their regular October singing on Oct. 11th in the General Store on the grounds of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale. The singing will start at 1:30 P.M. and conclude at 4:00 P.M. This will also be our last chance to review plans for the NWA Fall Shape Note Singing School and Convention in Springdale on October 23 and 24. The 10/23 Singing School will be held from 6:30 until 8:30 P.M. in the General Store, where we usually sing. The Saturday all-day singing will be held in the 1st Security Bank Community Room, just south of the drive inbank across the street from the Shiloh Museum. The singing will start at 9:30 A.M. and conclude at 3:30 P.M. with a pot luck noon meal.
Note: Click on the thumbnail for a full-sized PDF copy of the flyer with details about the NWA Fall singing School and Convention.

Thanks to the Sacred Harp Publishing Co. for sharing their New Online Exhibit: The United Sacred Harp Musical Association. Since its first session in Atlanta in 1905, the United Sacred Harp Musical Association, commonly known as the United Convention, has stood out as more than just an ordinary Sacred Harp singing, affecting the form of The Sacred Harp and public consciousness of our traditions. The story of the United Convention—told here through recordings, photos, and more—offers a fascinating perspective on the history of Sacred Harp singing in the twentieth century and beyond. 

One more thing about Sunday's singing: Any singers or visitors who wish to join the singer's table at AQ's Chicken House in Springdale for chicken and dumplings or other chicken dishes are welcome to arrive around noon this Sunday. Just ask the reception desk for directions to the singers and they'll point you in the right direction. It's a good time for old friends to visit and for new singers to ask questions about Sacred Harp singing.

Hope to see you all at the October singing on Sunday.