By Kathryn Eastburn
A few have known as Sacred Harp making a song America’s earliest track. This robust nondenominational non secular making a song, a part of a deeply held Southern tradition, has unfold through the kingdom over the last centuries. In A Sacred ceremonial dinner, Kathryn Eastburn trips into the neighborhood of Sacred Harp singers around the state and introduces readers to the curious glories of a convention that's practiced this present day simply because it was once 200 years ago. Each of the book’s chapters visits a special area and contours recipes from the accompanying culinary tradition—dinner at the floor, a hearty noontime banquet. From oven-cooked pulled red meat barbecue to greenback shop cornbread dressing to crimson velvet cake, those recipes inform a narrative of nourishing the physique, the soul, and the voice. The Sacred Harp’s deeply relocating sound and spirit resonate via those pages, captured at conventions in Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Colorado, and Washington, conveyed in graphics of singers, and celebrated within the points of interest, sounds, smells, and tastes of all-day making a song and dinner at the flooring echoing via generations and centuries. (20080410)
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Extra resources for A Sacred Feast: Reflections on Sacred Harp Singing and Dinner on the Ground (At Table)
McGraw, a great ambassador for Sacred Harp singing, published a national Sacred Harp newsletter at that time and put Richardson on the mailing list. Richardson and his singing friends learned 28 bir ming ham some tunes and sang them at folk fests around England for a time, and eventually organized two conventions that are held in England each year. This is a story I’ve heard over and over, the story of how new Sacred Harp singing conventions are born. I tell Richardson I haven’t yet gotten up the courage to lead a song, and he encourages me to pick out an easy one and give it a try.
Cobb, the perennial chairman of the national convention, is a soft-spoken Georgia gentleman, and Alabama native who has loved — and long feared the demise of — traditional Sacred Harp singing, always bringing its true roots to the forefront of the national and international crowd of singers who gather in Birmingham each June. On the last day of the 2003 convention, Cobb had urged us to go out into the country the following day to attend a small family singing and experience the origins of the tradition.
Women dressed in tailored pastels wear makeup in the day and smell like flowers. Men wear Bass Weejuns with no socks, their hairy ankles exposed beneath the hem of their loose-fitting khakis. Outside the terminal, the air is lush and relaxed. It feels as if the world is taking a nap on this sultry afternoon. The streets outside Birmingham’s downtown grid are winding and confusing. No road forms a straight line and names change every few miles or so. Bright green kudzu vines with enormous leaves claim and smother raised billboards, abandoned buildings, and entire urban forests on the sides of the interstate highway.