The Colored Sacred Harp
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80433     Release Date: 1993-01-01

A Songbook by Nineteenth Century African-Americans

Wiregrass Sacred Harp Singers, Ozark, Alabama

The Colored Sacred Harp is a collection of shape-note songs composed and arranged by African-American musicians in southeastern Alabama and published in 1934. The songs refer to the history of their communities in Alabama, their socio-religious experiences, and their aesthetic values. Folklorist John Work's 1941 study, published in Musical Quarterly, points out that the African-American Sacred Harp, like African music that might be termed religious, is locatable within the practice of an integrated, rather than a compartmentalized, belief system.

Specifically, African religious music tends to incorporate into its discourse the relationships between humans and the spiritual realm, among humans, and between humans and the natural realm, which are kept in balance by the propitiating and redressive powers of words that become efficacious because they are set to music. Examples of the sonic manifestations of these underlying principles are as varied as African cultures are numerous. In Mali, the whispered songs of the Dogon Andoumboulou place the deceased's spirit in relationship with those already in the spirit realm, and mark the final segment of a funeral. In Nigeria, the praise songs of Igbomina (Yoruba) ancestors in the spirit realm, represented by Elewe masks, annually honor their human families. The deity's song motto (rab's bak) performed in the ndop healing ceremony of the Wolof of Senegal achieves the communion between the dancing/singing patient and the spiritual realm necessary to cure disease.

Both the principles of relationship and the fluidity of boundaries between sacred and secular were retained within the African-American church, first established as an independent Baptist institution in Georgia during the 1730s. The church provided a matrix for leadership training, social gatherings, education, philanthropy, and artistic development, as well as worship. More appropriately conceptualized as an aggregate of believers, the church and church-centered support of African- American life created, for nearly two centuries before it was published, a model and a strong base of reception for the African-American Sacred Harp songbook. African-Americans continue to perform the Sacred Harp at county courthouses, union halls, homes, schools, community centers, and singing halls, as well as in churches, the majority of which are Baptist and Methodist. They also perform at conventions, memorials, anniversaries, picnics, birthdays, religious holidays, and Sunday singings.

Wiregrass Sacred Harp Singers

The Colored Sacred Harp

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

Prayer/Come To Jesus Now
Lillie M. Jackson
Buy
Alone
Judge Jackson
Buy
The Signs of the Judgement
James E. Pettie
Buy
Florida Storm
Judge Jackson
Buy
Shout and Sing
Judge Jackson
Buy
Jesus Lives in My Soul
Bishop J.D. Walker
Buy
My Friend
Thomas Y. Lawrence
Buy
Call Upon The Lord
Judge Jackson
Buy
Welcome Address/Jesus Rose
Bishop J.D. Walker
Buy
My Mother's Gone
Judge Jackson
Buy
Rejoice and Sing
Oscar G. Griffin
Buy
Prosperity
H. Webster Wood
Buy
Am I a Soldier of The Cross
Judge Jackson
Buy
It Is Finished
Judge Jackson
Buy