Sunday, October 2, 2016

Unsurpassed Opportunities to Sing and Learn in October!

Shiloh Museum General Store
UPDATED: 10/19/16

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE The Annual Fall Sacred Harp Singing School is scheduled for Friday evening, October 21, 2016 from 6:30 until 8:30 pm in the General Store at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, at 118 W. Johnson Avenue, Springdale, AR. This provides a good follow-up opportunity for brand new singers as well as advanced training for other singers who want to learn even more with a refresher course. I always learn something new from the experienced instructors. Hopefully, some of the new singers we met at the Murrell House singing will attend the singing school and learn more about Sacred Harp singing. As always, visitors and children welcomed. 

NEW INFO: Syd has also made arrangements for our usual tables at AQ Chicken House for those who would like to have supper and greet Rene Greene, who will be the instructor at the Friday evening singing school. The restaurant is located at 1207 N Thompson St (just a few blocks north of the W Huntsville Ave/Hwy 71 intersection) and it's only a few blocks away from the museum. While we'll start "about 5 o'clock, we know some will be traveling after work so don't worry if you arrive a little later. AQ has plenty of chicken.

On Saturday, October 22, 2016, the Annual Fall Sacred Harp Singing Convention will conduct an all day singing with a pot-luck lunch. Starting at 9:30 am we'll have a traditional singing but with time to reinforce the lessons learned in an enjoyable setting among friends who share a common interest in shape note singing. In addition, the lunch is a chance for everyone to share their best dishes and desserts. The 3:00 pm ending time hopefully allows singers to get an early start on the trip home.

This year, thanks to Northwest Technical Institute, the singing will be held in the NWTI Student Center, on the SW corner of the campus at 709 S Old Missouri Rd, Springdale, AR. Plenty of parking is available and it should provide easy access for everyone.

Map: Singing School & Convention
For those who may not be familiar with Springdale, we have prepared a PDF map and schedule. Click on either underlined link, download and print with directions from I-49 to the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History for the singing school on Friday evening and directions that extend to the NWTI campus on the east side of town across the street from the Springdale Airport for the Saturday Singing. Those traveling from points east of Springdale. turn north on Hwy 265 and look for Ford Ave. across from the airport.

If you're wondering what to bring for the pot luck lunch, this is a chance to show off your favorite dish, casserole, baking, or dessert or if pressed for time, make a quick trip to the local deli. Somehow, it all seems to work out and and everyone finds more than enough to eat. We do have some good cooks among our singing group.

Best of all, we have the opportunity for outreach to the community, a singing school and a regional singing convention for singers from all over the territory. We have an opportunity for growth. That's a tremendous opportunity for singers that's too good to miss. On behalf of all the singers, we hope to see you there.

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UPDATED: 10/10/16

Singing in a hollow square at Murrell Home, 10/9/16. Photo: F. Christel
"Was a great day - thanks for all! ...It was an enjoyable day." Dan Brittain, Director of Music.

"Very pleased with the number of singers who came today!" Secretary Katy Black, who sends the minutes from events to the national organization for printing each year.

As best I could count, we had at least 35 people at the Murrell Home Festival who used a book. actually sat down around the square and either sang or followed along with us. We even had a couple of exchange students who visited yesterday with their sponsor.

My thoughts while drinking my first cup of coffee on Monday morning were about how far so many singers came, with their families, with boxes of loaner books, and how so many casual visitors walked up just to listen and then sat down and picked up a book.

I believe part of the success was that the event was not scheduled as a brief "performance." It was a real, sit-in-a-hollow-square with individuals leading in the middle, Sacred Harp singing. The singing followed an 1800's era pioneer chuch service under the trees and we sang in the open air under a canopy of green trees and blue sky. With all the picnic tables available, maybe we should think about dinner on the grounds someday if that can be included.

Our thanks to our gracious hosts at the Murrell Home Historic Site, and the Oklahoma Historical Society for an unexpected honorarium that will help the Shiloh Singers purchase more loaner books. Our sincere thanks to the singers and visitors from Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas who joined together in song to share our historic singing tradition with others. With everyone's help, it was indeed "a great day."  - B.R. 
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Original Post: 10/02/16 
Fall and cooler temperatures are in the air. The Murrell Home staff have been hard at work on the arrangements for the Antique Agriculture Festival on October 7-9, 2016. We have a wonderful opportunity on Sunday, September 9th to share traditional Sacred Harp Singing with festival visitors from Oklahoma as well as Western Arkansas. Our thanks to the Murrell Home Historic Site Director, David Fowler and Amanda Pritchett, Historic Interpreter, for the invitation and opportunity for interested Sacred Harp singers to work together and learn together.

First, please let your friends and other singers know via Facebook, bulletin board, conversation or email that the Sacred Harp singers who participate in the singing on Sunday, October 9th will be admitted free. Children are also a part of the Sacred Harp's tradition and one of our favorite singing instructors in Alabama was carried to her first singing in a large bread basket. We've all seen many children still in elementary school or middle school who are usually found next to parents singing, learning to sing or in some cases, even learning to lead. 

While singers will get in free - please tell the ticket takers that you're with the Sacred Harp singers - if you have other family members or friends who just plan to come to visit the festival and exhibits, they will need to pay. The regular admission charge for the festival: $5.00 for adults, children and teens 6-18 $3.00, 5 and under free. Parking is also free.

Second, please pass along to your friends and singers that we've been requested to bring a lawn chair or folding chair of some description suitable for grass or leaves rather than a hard surface so that we can form the square where we will sit during the singing. The staff moved the location of the stage and benches for the public to "higher ground" on the upper side of the sidewalk in the park.  They also trimmed low-hanging tree limbs from the area to form an area that will be in the shade much of the day, so we should be more comfortable than in the sunny area farther down the slope.

Singing in the trees between the Murrell Home and parking
While we're on the topic of bringing things, the Shiloh Singers will bring their "loaner books." Visitors are always welcomed at our singings and any of the visitors in the audience who wish to sit with us are welcome to tap their feet and even sing along. We'll also bring a folding card table so that neighboring Oklahoma City and Tulsa groups can display any literature or handouts with info about when they sing and where. I'll also maintain a clipboard for a sign-in sheet if anyone wishes to have more information or receive a newsletter and we'll make the sign-in sheets available to each group. We would also like to take a "group picture" during a break that would also be shared with Oklahoma City and Tulsa groups for newsletters or web sites.

There is an area within festival grounds for food vendors and picnic tables are available should anyone wish to eat between the church service and the time we start singing. We'll also have a cooler with bottled water for the singers.  You may want to pack a few snacks in your book bags in case the food vendors need to start packing after lunch.

The Murrell House staff have planned a full schedule of events and things to see and do to make your visit as enjoyable as possible -- both as visitors and participants.

History and demonstrations
The three-day event will include ongoing living history demonstrations, as well as entertainment, shopping and food vendors. The Murrell Home, built in 1845, is the last remaining 19th-century plantation in Oklahoma.

“The Antique Agriculture Festival is a showplace for an agricultural heritage that needs to be saved,” said Site Director David Fowler. “The festival will focus on the end of the growing season. We’ll show harvesting and food preparation activities needed to sustain a plantation.”

Visitors are invited to watch demonstrations and participate in hands-on activities over a variety of topics including food preparation, domestic skills, trades, animal husbandry and farming. “All of the activities will be performed in the 19th-century manner,” said Fowler.

Festival hours are 10:00 am-5:00 pm Friday and Saturday, and 10:00 am-3:00 pm on Sunday. We will have vendor/entertainer/volunteer parking in the lot of our park/picnic area, on the east side of the property.  If you have anything to unload, please do that by 9:00am each morning. Thank you all for agreeing to participate!


Friday, October 7th
How was this wagon used?
11:00-11:45 - Wayne Cantwell
12:00-12:45 - Holmes Brigade
   2:00-2:45 - Wayne Cantwell
   3:00-3:45 - Holmes Brigade

Saturday, October 8th
11:00-11:45 - Holmes Brigade
12:00-12:45 - Wayne Cantwell
   2:00-2:45 - Tommy Wildcat
   3:00-3:45 - Wayne Cantwell
   4:00-4:45 - Holmes Brigade

Sunday, October 9th
  10:30 am - 19th Century Church Service
12:00-3:00 - Traditional Sacred Harp Singing

The George M. Murrell Home is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. For more information on the festival, visit or contact the Murrell Home at 918-456-2751. 
The historic site is located at 19479 E. Murrell Home Road in Park Hill, OK. For more detailed directions and links to more information about the park: