Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Full Weekend of Singing in July...

This July update is a little earlier than usual to include the latest information about the Annual Shape Note Gathering at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View.

Photo: Dan Brittain helps two young singers learn more about shape notes during the 2015 Shape Note Gathering.

Click this link for Ozark Folk Center Shape Note Gathering Schedule - July 7-9, 2016.

Click this link for Map to Ozark Folk Center Shape Note Gathering – July 7-8, 2016 and Traditional Singing - July 9, 2016

I've been traveling for the last couple of weeks, but I can add without hesitation that those who attended last year's gathering and singing learned about different forms of shape note singing and thoroughly enjoy the Saturday singing in the old Mountain View School auditorium.

For those Shiloh Singers who cannot attend the Mountain View events, the Shiloh Singers will be at their usual General Store for the July Singing at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History on Sunday, July 10, 2016 from 1:30 until 4:00 P.M. Visitors and children are always welcome.

Likewise, the optional pre singing table at AQ's Chicken House in Springdale at 12:00 and post singing "Desserts at Denny's" will be observed so we can visit and enjoy the fellowship of friends.

All in all, the 2nd weekend of July looks like it will be a busy one, but there will be plenty of good singing for everyone who can attend. Looking forward to seeing you at one or both of the events.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Shiloh Singers June Newsletter and a few audio and video links...

The second half of May and the first part of June have been hectic with teachers and students both ready for the end of the school year. I've been retired for almost 20 years and I'm still ready for summer vacation each June. However, I hope you won't take a "summer vacation" from Sacred Harp singing. The Shiloh Singers will host its regular monthly singing on June 12, 2016 in the General Store at the Shiloh Museum. I may bring an extra fan to circulate the cool air a little better and we'll have the usual bottled water on the welcome table. The extra curricular activities - lunch at Springdale's AQ Chicken House and desserts at Denny's close to I-49 will both be optional activities if you can come early around noon or stay a little later. We never have enough time to visit with only a short break in the middle of our 1:30 to 4:00 P.M. singings. And somehow, singers always have plenty of news from family and friends to share. I hope you can make the trip and sing with us this month.

Part of the good news is that Syd Caldwell isn't going to Disneyland this summer, Syd's going to Poland!! ...where he'll attend the singing school and make new friends in Europe. We sometimes think of Syd being the Shiloh Singer's goodwill ambassador to the several states on both sides of the Mississippi River but he'll have some stamps in his passport that not everyone gets to see. Syd, we're proud of you and know you're excited about the trip. Bon Voyage.

We need to get caught up on several audio and video items:
First, we have an audio segment spotted and forwarded by Frank Christel while recording at the Missouri Convention. Singers always talk about how we enjoy having children and young people at our singings and conventions. Jim Herr put things in perspective about youngsters getting starting singing at an early age. The .m4a file is a little larger to make audio as clear as possible. It sounded pretty clear when I wore my hearing aids, but it was recorded in front of a large audience of singers. Link to audio file at:

Next, we have three short videos recorded at the All-Day Singing in the Washington United Methodist Church in Washington, AR on May 14th and the "Old Folks Singing" at Ebenezer UMC on May 15th. The Washington singing is an effort to expand and grow an annual singing in South Central Arkansas. Thanks to Robert Vaughn, who brought books and a number of singers from East Texas to help with all four sides of the square and Keenan Williams and his congregation who provided the "historic wooden church" with wood floors and high ceilings that make a wonderful place to sing traditional sacred music. The NWA visitors were glad we made the trip and hope to return next year. See:

The second video was recorded at Ebenezer UMC's "131st Old Folks Singing" which is the church's reunion day, dinner on the ground, and a time for remembering family and friends who made Tull, AR a viable rural community in the 1800's and keep it viable in the 21st century. I wish every church in our country had such a community celebration each year. I told a friend I hope I could do justice to the Ebenezer singing in only 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Thanks to the Tull community for the hospitality that we received as visitors and we hope we can visit again. See:

When the several Sacred Harp singers were asked to lead a song, Dan Brittain never misses the opportunity to demonstrate how churches sang before pianos and organs could be freighted across miles of poor roads. Traditional songs are pitched and then the singers first sang their notes instead of the words to help them learn the tune. Then the words were added to complete the song. We hope the video helps explain why singing the notes and then the words helped early singers learn to read music and the confidence to sing with such enthusiasm. See:

We're running a little long on text and short on time, so I hope you get at idea or two from the audio and video files and that traditional shape note singing is available in Arkansas and surrounding states if you want to learn more. Hope to see you in the Country Store on Sunday.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mother's Day singing and other reminders...

Three quick items!

First, a gentle reminder that the Shiloh Singers of NWA will be celebrating Mother's Day as well as singing at our regular 2nd Sunday afternoon get-together on May 8, 2016 in the General Store at the Shiloh Museum in Springdale. We'll start at 1:30 and sing until 4:00 P.M. Mothers, children and guests are always welcome, but particularly mothers on this special day.

It's always nice to take mothers out to lunch or supper. We'll have our usual table at AQ Chicken House in Springdale on Sunday for those who can arrive around noon and desserts at Denny's near I-49 after the singing is concluded to visit with each other. These are open to all the singers and visitors too.

Photo: Syd Caldwell and Andrew Albers lead the NWA Spring Sacred Harp Singing Convention on April 30th in Harrison, AR. 

Second, a big thank you to Dan Brittain and everyone at St. John's Episcopal Church in Harrison, AR last week who helped make the 2016 NWA Spring Sacred Harp Convention a success. The travel weather on Friday evening wasn't exactly "optimum" in NWA, but Dan conducted a "conversational singing school" covering the basics but with plenty of time for questions and answers. Even the experienced singers learned more than enough to make the experience worthwhile. We came up with 28 people who attended the Saturday all-day singing. Lunch and a fine selection of desserts were enjoyed at noon.
Finally, don't forget that there will be singings in the southern half of Arkansas on the following Saturday, May 14th, in Old Washington United Methodist Church and on Sunday, May 15th, in Tull, AR in the Ebenezer United Methodist Church. Details are in the "Singing Calendar" section on the right and under the "Regional Singings" tab at the top of the page. We're looking forward to seeing our friends from all over that area and participating in a "super singing weekend." Hope to see you there.

There is nothing in the world of art like the songs mother used to sing. - Billy Sunday

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Take a tax break on Sunday afternoon...

Click this link for PDF
UPDATE: 4/13/16 - As discussed at the April 10th monthly singing, Dan Brittain has agreed to conduct a two hour introductory singing with a short review for new singers with a question and answer time on Friday evening, April 29th, in the St. John's Parish Hall from 6:30 until 8:30 P.M. This is an opportunity for new singers as well as existing singers to learn more about Sacred Harp singing. Experienced singers are invited to help anchor all the parts.

The Northwest Arkansas Convention will be held on April 30, 2016 from 10:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M. St. John's Episcopal Church in Harrison, AR with a pot luck lunch at noon. We also have access to the kitchen for cooling or warming your special dish or dessert. Please print and share the flyer with a friend that might want to learn more about the singing school and convention. Visitors, new singers and children are welcome.

We've also added an interactive Google search that lists Harrison motels/hotels, their current prices, ratings and a map.  Click on this link for the list of hotels. It's another good place to sing in Arkansas.


Like many people, I've been up to my 3-ring notebook with bank accounts and envelopes of receipts working on taxes. If you need a break from doing your taxes, come sing with us at the General Store on the grounds of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History on Sunday afternoon, April 10th, from 1:30 until 4:00 P.M. If you're a visitor, or a new singer, we welcome both categories and you can listen in, tap your foot, and we'll loan you a book so you can join in if the music moves you to sing along. I should also mention that young and old are welcome. Even our most experienced singers were new singers once upon a time.

If you get to Springdale a little early, say around 12:00 noon on Sunday, please join a few of the singers who gather at the AQ Chicken House in Springdale for lunch. Just ask for the singers at the reception desk and they'll point you in the right direction. 

Syd Caldwell sent us an email about his Georgia trip to sing with the 2016 Georgia State Convention: 
"The singing was great both days and some strong loud singing. ...At the end of Sunday I sat toward the back and listened as they called Bill and Nancy Price and a lady from Oregon to lead and I went and asked Bill if they wanted me to lead with them and we all led 288 for our Shiloh gang."
Photo Credit: Thanks to Martha Beverly and Flicker

UPDATE: 4/13/16 - Thanks to Syd Caldwell who mentioned on Sunday singing that Southern Field Recordings had posted the recordings from the Georgia State Convention at:

One more thing: The dogwoods have popped out and the 2016 version of springtime in the Ozarks is turning green as fast as it can. Not only can you sing Sacred Harp this Sunday, you can get a nice ride in the country to get there. That always sounds like a good deal to me.