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.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Singing on 9/13 and Other Events in September and October

September 13th Singing at the Shiloh Museum: It's time for the monthly reminder that the Shiloh Sacred Harp Singers of NW Arkansas will be singing in the General Store of the Shiloh Museum on Sunday afternoon, September 13, 2015 from 1:30 until 4:00 P.M. Visitors are always welcome, so come watch, tap your feet, look at the music in a loaner book while we're singing and join in the the singing.

Photo: Bill Caldwell leads the Shiloh Singers at the August 9th singing in the Shiloh Museum General Store.

Children, or "next generation singers," are also welcome to join in too. The fact is that our singing sessions are somewhat informal and you'll be surrounded by others who just enjoy singing the old songs as they were sung by our ancestors before small rural congregations could afford pianos and organs. Your participation is encouraged. 

Updated: 9/14/15 After the Singing Report - Had 25 adults and children at the singing plus the local cat who helped entertain the children. Just as the singing ended, a kitten of a similar color showed up at the open door but was afraid to come in. The children instinctively made a bee-line for the kitten who instinctively ran for the barn at full speed and was not seen again.  It is wonderful to have children to attend and sing. 

We also had about several college students who were taking a music class and Andrew Albers and Bill Caldwell gave them some history and info on sacred harp and our type of singing. Hope they all make an A+ on their assignment. We were also joined by several singers from the Tulsa group planning their singing school and singing in Oct. 26th. 

Syd Caldwell forwarded an email Monday morning from Stanley Smith, one of the Sacred Harp composers who plans to be with us at the October NWA Singing Convention. Syd used a cell phone yesterday to share a couple of Sacred Harp songs with Stanley. One of the better uses of cellular technology: 
Thanks for calling and letting me hear “Not Made with Hands” and “Haw Ridge”. Ya’ll did a great job on both. Relay to all that I appreciate it very much. I sure did my heart good hear your singing and that you did my song. Ya’ll did so good, you can do it again sometime. Looking forward to being out there soon. - Stanley
September 26th Singing School and Sacred Harp Singing in Tulsa: But the monthly second Sunday singings are only just the start for the next two months. We're even more excited by the news that Sacred Harp singers in the Tulsa area have organized as Tulsa Friends of Sacred Harp Singing and they have planned a one-day Tulsa Shape Note School and Singing on Saturday, September 26, 2015 from 9:30 A.M. until 3:30 P.M. at the First Lutheran Church, 1244 S. Utica Ave. Dan Brittain will be leading the singing school. Thanks to Frank Christel for sharing the Facebook page link for more information about the Tulsa event at: and to Elaine King who is hosting the Tulsa group's new Facebook pages.

Updated: 9/11/15 - We just got a note from Frank that the Tulsa group has posted their web page at: with info, slides and a YouTube video. Check it out.

October 23rd and 24th NWA Fall Sacred Harp Singing School and Convention: We've already talked about the NW Arkansas Fall Sacred Harp Singing School on Friday evening, Oct. 23rd and the All-Day Singing Convention and Dinner on the Grounds on October 24th in Springdale. The singing school will be in the General Store, where we usually sing each month, from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. The Saturday convention will be across the street from the Shiloh Museum entrance in the 1st Security Bank Community Room, just south of the drive in bank. The singing will start at 9:30 A.M. and conclude at 3:30 P.M. with a pot luck noon meal. Rather than repeat all of the details again in the newsletter, you can catch up with the details on last month's newsletter posting. Thanks again to Elaine King's creative efforts on her computer, click on this link: NWA Singing School and Convention flyer for a PDF copy that you can easily view or download to print and share with others.

Other Official and Unofficial activities: Updated: 9/11/15 - Thanks to Syd Caldwell for his note that Susan Young, Outreach Coordinator at the Shiloh Museum, will present a program on Sacred Harp at the Harrison Public Library on September 22, 2015 at 5:30 P.M.

As usual, any singers or visitors who wish to join the singer's table at AQ's Chicken House in Springdale for AQ's usual assortment of 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 to visit and ask questions about Sacred Harp singing.

...And one more thing: We're still having headaches (program updates? regressions? driver error?) with our email and mailing list software. The September email newsletter was delayed while the mailing list was pieced back together yet again. While I hope the lists (two of them now) will stay fixed this time, we had to eliminate several damaged entries. IF you DID NOT get a copy of the September newsletter this month, and would like to get back on the list, please send an email to: so that we can make sure you are on the list. Of course if you got a copy and wish to just follow the news on this web site, directions for getting off the list are at the bottom of each newsletter.

As always we'll look forward to singing with you on Sunday afternoon.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sunday Singing at the Shiloh Museum on August 9th

This has been one of those weeks when neither my schedule, the Greek financial bailout, nor the famous Italian trains would have run "on time." The best thing I can say about this week is that the Shiloh Singers will be meeting and singing in the General Store on the grounds of the Shiloh Museum in Springdale on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 9th, at 1:30 and we'll all get to sing in the company of friends. That's always a good way to end a busy week.

We also need to discuss and start planning for the October NW Arkansas Sacred Harp Fall Singing Convention and Singing School on October 23rd and 24th. Thanks to Syd Caldwell and the always helpful staff at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Much of the planning framework has already been sketched out.

Syd has arranged for Robert Vaughn, a 5th generation Sacred Harp singer, author, composer and ordained Baptist minister from Mount Enterprise, TX to conduct the convention's annual singing school on Oct. 23rd, the evening before the all day singing on Saturday. In fact, this weekend, Robert will be leading and singing at the 148th East Texas Convention in Henderson, TX.

Photo: Robert Vaughn leading the singers at Historic Washington (AR) United Methodist Church on March 22, 2015.

What we think we know about the schedule and enough to start marking your calendar if it's not already added to your October page:
Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 - 6:30 P.M. until 8:30 P.M. - NWA Fall Sacred Harp Convention Singing School
Location: Shiloh Museum General Store, 118 W. Johnson Avenue, Springdale, AR 72764
Instructor: Robert L. Vaughn, Mount Enterprise, TX
Beginner class for those new to sacred harp singing or who want to learn more about the fundamentals of 4-note shape note singing.

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 - 9:30 A.M. until 3:30 P.M. - NWA Fall Sacred Harp Convention
Location: 1st Security Bank Community Room, 110 North Main Street (south of drive-in bank), Springdale, AR 72764.
All day singing with pot luck lunch at noon. Singing will be from The Sacred Harp (Denson Book), Missouri Harmony, and B. F. White Sacred Harp (Cooper Book, 2006 Ed.). Loaner books are available. Visitors, new singers and their children welcome.
For those of you who instantly recognized that on Saturday, Oct. 24th, the University of Arkansas Razorbacks will play the Auburn Tigers in Fayetteville. Unless there is a late October hurricane or an early winter snow storm, there's an excellent chance that most hotels and motels will approach their capacity on Friday and Saturday nights. While there are at least 20 hotels and motels listed by Google in the Springdale area, if you plan to stay overnight in the Fayetteville/Springdale area on a Razorback football weekend, please consider making your room reservations earlier than normal this year. To help that process, Syd has reserved two small blocks of rooms in Springdale in his name with premium or budget rates for the event, but the convention rates are only good for a limited time: the HOTEL RESERVATION DEADLINE IS AUGUST 21, 2015. After that, the block of rooms will be released and regular room rates will be in effect based on the market and availability.
Comfort Suites, 1099 Rieff St. Springdale, Phone: 479-725-1777 - 4 stars - $149.00/night
Heritage Inn Springdale, 1394 W. Sunset Ave. Springdale Phone: 479-751-3100 - 2 stars - $69.00/night

Singers who earn points with a favorite hotel or motel chain or use their favorite hotel booking agent like Expedia or Trivago can use their own system to search for competitive rates on their own, but please start early!

As we get closer to the actual singing convention dates, I'm sure there will be additional information and I'll post the usual maps and a flyer you can download, print and share on the Shiloh Singers website. And if the schedule works better next week, I may actually get a chance to post some of the other items I had planned for this month's edition of the newsletter. Watch this space.

Photo: Dan Brittain teaching the next generation of shape note singers at the July 11th Ozark Folk Center Shape Note Gathering.

One more thing: For those who plan to attend the Aug. 9th singing and can get to the AQ Chicken House in Springdale around noon or a little later, there's an open table of Shiloh Singers usually in the back enjoying one of AQ's many fine dishes before the singing and catching up with friends and fellow singers. There's also coffee and ice cream at Denny's after the singing. Both events are open to all singers and we can usually add chairs or bump more tables together if we need more space. You are invited.

Hope to see you in Springdale on Sunday...