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36th Annual Sacred Harp Singing Returns to the Powerhouse

Sacred Harp singing will be held at the Powerhouse on Sunday, March 13.
Sacred Harp singing will be held at the Powerhouse on Sunday, March 13.

On Sunday, March 13, the 36th Annual Sacred Harp singing will be held at the Powerhouse Community Art Center from 9:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend and sing along.

Organizers would like to remind the public that the Sunday of the event is daylight savings time so clocks should be set accordingly.

The singing – which takes place annually on the second Sunday in March, attracting singers from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and other states – is sponsored by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the Center for Southern Culture at Ole Miss.

Photo courtesy of Marcin Lewandowski/soundofphotography.com
Photo courtesy of Marcin Lewandowski/soundofphotography.com

According to CorkSacredHarp.com: Sacred Harp singing is a particular arm of the genre of music known as American shape- or shaped-note singing. Shape note refers to the manner in which the music is notated: it is written in standard Western musical notation form, but with one significant difference – all the note heads are given different shapes and names, according to the pitch. This is to make sight-singing easier for those untrained in reading music.

The music is set to Christian texts and had developed as a form of worship in New England, USA, around the mid-18th century, though it soon migrated down South as more fashionable styles of music took precedence in the North. Nowadays, Sacred Harp is sung in many different parts of the US and the world – its singers hailing from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.

The music is sung a cappella by four voice sections who sit in a “hollow square”, each section facing another, with participants welcome to take their turn leading a song of their choice in the middle of the square.

For more information, call Warren Steel at (662) 236-5356 or e-mail him at mudws@olemiss.edu.

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