Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention | Sacred Harp Singing in Western Massachusetts 2000-2001

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Sacred Harp Singing in Western Massachusetts 2000-2001

by Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention

Field recordings of Sacred Harp singing (not performing) events in western Massachusetts--the music is rugged and soulful American harmony--loud, rhythmic and spirited a capella singing.
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Detroit
2:16 $0.99
2. Span of Life
1:36 $0.99
3. Desire for Piety
1:25 $0.99
4. Help Me to Sing
2:01 $0.99
5. Claremont
3:55 $0.99
6. Confidence
2:03 $0.99
7. Eternal Day
2:27 $0.99
8. Windham
3:23 $0.99
9. Bound for Canaan
2:35 $0.99
10. Florida
1:45 $0.99
11. I'm On My Journey Home
1:29 $0.99
12. Africa
3:21 $0.99
13. New Jerusalem
1:54 $0.99
14. Save, Mighty Lord
2:40 $0.99
15. The Gospel Pool
2:23 $0.99
16. Exhortation
1:50 $0.99
17. Ballstown
1:33 $0.99
18. Green Street
2:38 $0.99
19. Long Sought Home
4:42 $0.99
20. Horton
1:59 $0.99
21. Return Again
2:09 $0.99
22. Antioch
2:47 $0.99
23. At Rest
3:47 $0.99
24. Religion is a Fortune
2:28 $0.99
25. Odem
2:01 $0.99
26. Fleeting Days
2:37 $0.99
27. The Grieved Soul
1:38 $0.99
28. New Jordan
2:14 $0.99
29. Plenary
3:17 $0.99
30. I'll Seek His Blessings
1:54 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Social singing from the Sacred Harp has a long history in many communities throughout the South. More recently, it has become a presence in pockets all over the country and beyond. Over the past several years, western Massachusetts has developed one of the largest Sacred Harp communities in the country, with an annual convention (two days of singing), that consistently attracts between 200 and 300 singers from across the country and beyond.

Lately, Sacred Harp singing has gotten a fair amount of local and national media attention, due to its appearance in the movie, "Cold Mountain". Tim Eriksen, long-time Sacred Harp singer, solo recording artist, and lead singer for the band Cordelia's Dad, was hired to provide the singing voice for the actor Brendan Gleason in the film. When he learned that director Anthony Minghella was considering using Sacred Harp in the soundtrack, he convinced the powers that be to record experienced Sacred Harp singers having a real sing at Liberty Church in Alabama rather than trying (in vain!) to fabricate something like it in a recording studio. Two Sacred Harp songs from the resulting specially organized and documented singing are featured in the film and are included on the soundtrack: Idumea (page 47 on the bottom) and I'm Going Home (page 282).

As a result of this media exposure and the critical praise which almost unanimously singled out the Sacred Harp cuts on the movie's soundtrack as transcendent, in what some might consider a rather surreal turn of events this non-performance, "singers' music" was represented at the Academy Awards ceremony this year. A group of 37 Sacred Harp singers from across the country (including Alabama and Georgia, western Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Texas, among others) went to the Oscars, where they sang back-up for Allison Krauss on one of the nominated songs from Cold Mountain.

If you first heard Sacred Harp singing in "Cold Mountain", you will find that "Sacred Harp Singing in Western Massachusetts 2000-2001" shares the intense sound and spirit generally found in regular Sacred Harp singings around the country which was so well documented on those soundtrack recordings. But each local singing has its own character, and this cd also documents the unique qualities of our local singing.

The cd features highlights from singing events in western Massachusetts during 2000 and 2001, including the annual two-day singing convention from both years, the Young People's Singing in 2000, and the first Pioneer Valley All-Day Singing in 2001. About 250 people attend the Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp convention each year (on the 2nd Sunday in March and the Saturday before), and over 100 attend the Pioneer Valley All-Day Singing (on the Saturday before the first Sunday in July). In addition, the last eight tracks are lower-tech recordings of two smaller local singings. The songs recorded at the smaller sings are some of the favorites of many of us who sing here.

If this recording makes you want to sing, there are no auditions or other requirements: you are welcome to attend any Sacred Harp singing, and to sing if you wish. (We hope you do!)

For information about singing in western Massachusetts, visit our web site: www.wmshc.org. For more information on Sacred Harp singing generally and a list of local singings around the country, go to fasola.org.



to write a review


loved this cd
If you like sacred harp singing, you'll love this cd. Cold Mountain reintroduced this singing style to the world and this CD is akin to the singing in Cold Mountain. A hearty thanks goes to those who support this singing style and keep it alive for the rest of us. Will watch for your next CD.


Wonderful recording, wonderful music, wonderful groups
As a retired US history teacher I am always aware of those things that have shaped our past and yet are still with us. Thankfully, Sacred Harp or shaped note singing is still part of our lives today, and this recording displays the full power of the music and the enthusiasm and talents of the singers of the Western Massachusetts Convention. It would be hard to find another recording that displays these things as well as this one. Just great!


This music goes through me like no other. Hypnotic. Mind altering.

lana counts

4 stars it was great
I have just recently discovered sacred harp singing or fasola singing. this is the fisrt cd I've been able to find to buy and it was great. I am very interested in obtaining more of the same type of singing


Best Sacred Harp Recording Available
This is with out a doubt, hands down, the best Sacred Harp CD available. Whether you're just getting introduced to the music, or are long-time singer, you'll love this one.


Very inspiring!! I loved it.

Bob Keenan

Very Good but you have to be a Sacred Harp Fan to Enjoy
We like Sacred Harp or Shaped Note Music. In fact we just joined a local group. This CD is a great collection. Many of the tunes are not on other CD's. The quality of the group is very good.

But Beware. Unless you already know what sacred harp singing is you may not like this or any sacred harp CD. We were playing this for some friends and the generaly comment was "what is this" and can you please turn it down.

But its a very good sacred harp CD.

Kenn T.

Unique and Inspirational!
Being new to Sacred Harp music I must say that it inspires the mind and soul. From the songs on this CD, I think I would really enjoy hearing the shape note singing in person.

Jeanne Hilburn

Well received!
This present for my sister was very much appreciated. She wants to share it with her chorus director in hopes of inspiring her chorus to emulate the remarkable sound.

David Kidman

For sheer rugged, full-throated joy... this CD proves irresistible.
Sacred Harp, or more correctly shape-note singing, is a truly glorious sound, totally unlike anything else in music. A mighty,
full-bodied, abundantly soulful, often quite rough choral attack that confronts you then sweeps you along like an
unstoppable tide, swelling and breaking with incredibly powerful momentum. Once heard, never forgotten. You either love it
or hate it, it seems; myself I love it, it's seriously addictive, and this CD gives me my fix! It brings us in its 72 minutes 30
tracks, each a separate hymn from the 1991 edition of the Sacred Harp collection. And before you turn hastily to the next
review, the word "hymn" loses all its connotations of lugubrious piety in these utterly joyful enactments. Yes, shape-note
singing is Fun!

The recordings were made not just at one Sacred Harp Convention but at a variety of shape-note singing events in Western
Massachusetts during 2000 and 2001. As the liner notes point out, each "sing" has a character all its own, reflecting all who
participate (largely "untrained" voices, no "professional" snobbery here), in their beauty and blemishes alike. The hymns are
positively belted out, with spirit and energy a-plenty and foot-thumping to mark rhythms - the atmosphere is potent indeed.
Most individual selections follow the usual format of first "sounding out the shapes" then singing the words themselves.

The uniform tonal and dynamic range fully reflects the participants' absolute vitality of expression, though there's one
surprising intrusion into the normal scheme of things with the performance of a longer hymn (Long Sought Home, which
sounds like a not-so-distant relation to Amazing Grace) where the participants take a more conventional approach to
varying mood by dynamics. Satisfying though this is on its own terms, it's not quite in keeping with the rest of the selections.
But no matter; the whole CD is a vibrant mix of the comparatively familiar (like Windham) and unfamiliar, consistently well
sung, and for sheer rugged, full-throated joy ... this CD proves irresistible.
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