Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Potomac River Convention

Washington, D.C.

April 4-6, 1997

Friday, April 4

An evening shape note singing school taught by P. Dan Brittain was

held at Pohick Episcopal Church in Lorton, Virginia.

Saturday, April 5

The eighth annual session of the Potomac River Sacred Harp Convention was held at the Pohick Episcopal Church, Lorton, Virginia. The class was called to order by Janine Smith leading song on page 37b. The opening prayer was offered by Evan Duncan. Janine Smith welcomed the class, and singing continued with Mary K. Friday leading 191; Cathy Tucker 40.

The business meeting was held with the election or appointment of the following officers and committees: Chairman—Mary K. Friday; Vice Chairman—Cathy Tucker; Secretary—Steven Sabol, assisted by Miriam Kilmer, Mary Ann Daly, and Gillie Campbell; Chaplains—Evan Duncan and George Seiler; Arranging Committee—Tim Slattery and Karen Foley; Finance—Cathy Tucker; Memorial Committee—Leanne Wiberg, Blake Morris, and Kelly Macklin; Resolutions—Suzanne Hale and Paula McGray; Registration—Clare Chapin and Evan Duncan; Food—Bob Hall; Child Care—Caroline Arlington and Ella Wilcox; Setup—Tim Slattery.

Leaders: Kelly Macklin 472; Kat Kincaid 163t; Phyllis Gonigam 107; Don Polaski 66; Steven Sabol 101b; Beth Hoffman-Reed 300; Evan Duncan 149; Ginny Landgraf 447; Leyland delRe 32t; Elizabeth Cusick 178; Richard Schmeidler 474; Sandra Hack Polaski 146; Joan Aldridge 189; Joyce Saxon 118; James Nelson Gingerich 29t; Dorothy Hurley 313b; Linda Hambourger 352.


John delRe brought the class back together by leading the song on page 312b. Leaders: Claudia Egelhoff 327; Hal Kunkel 362; Elise Meyer-Bothling 59; Blake Morris 501; Carol Werba 86; Mimi Stevens 528; Guy Banks 556; Tim Slattery 192; Elene Stovall 436; Johanna Fabke 122; Mary Wright 82t; Ted Stokes 51; Michele Rae Biery 485; Pat Temple 85; Steve Atlas 128; Bill Holt 269; Diane Menella 448t; Karen Snowberg 532; Brad Oglesby 68b; Gina Balestracci 28t; Willie Israel 163b; Susan Jaster 110. The blessing for lunch was given by Evan Duncan.


The class was called to order by John delRe leading the song on page 171. Leaders: Bobby Bailey 35; Janine Smith 153; Nancy Van Den Akker 480; Paula McGray 432; Dan Huger 47b; Sharon Kellam 28b; Barbara Swetman 475; Donna Abrahams 294; Berkley Moore 290; Fred Beardsley 454; Brenda Peña 39b; Doron Henkin 31t; Sue Hanson 148; Tom Padwa 145b; Jean Seiler 200; Karen Foley 569b; Reba Windom 196; Sarah Davie 384; Bob Parr 215; Gail Doss 137; Ted Mercer 204; Kelly House 236; Dan Brittain 522.


Singing resumed with John delRe leading the song on page 52t. Leaders: Leanne Wiberg 358; Karen House 442; Kathy Manning 396; Joanne DeVoe 77t; Ginny Ely 373; Rhonda Hendershot 198; Peter Pate 406; Paul Gauthier 542; George Seiler 347; Roland Hutchinson 553; Frank Evans 228; Marylin Estep 504; Alan Centa 143; Joseph Christopher 439; Mary K. Friday 147b.

After announcements, Mary K. Friday led 120 as the closing song. The class was dismissed with prayer by Evan Duncan.

After a break, a “New Traditions” singing of songs from sources other than The Sacred Harp, coordinated by Tom Tucker, was held. Leaders and tunes led (composers in parentheses): Blake Morris “Hans” (John Bayer, Jr.); Nicholas Schliapin “Nantahala” (N. Schliapin); Roland Hutchinson “Sappho” (Billings); Mary Ann Daly “Beatitudes” (M. A. Daly); Cathy Tucker and Jean Seiler “Windgate” (T. Tucker); Mary K. Friday “Veronica” (B. Morris); Blake Morris “Zion’s Joy” (B. Morris); Gina Balestracci “Glocester” (Billings); Kathy Manning “Heck” (John Bayer, Jr.); Doron Henkin “Memorial Bridge” (D. Henkin); Roland Hutchinson “Effingham” (attr. Billings); Gina Balestracci “Paria” (attr. Billings); Tom Tucker “Aleotti” (Aleotti/Tucker); Miriam Kilmer and Tim Slattery “Jeffrey” (M. Kilmer); Guy Banks “Gilead” (Billings); Doron Henkin “Brier Island” (D. Henkin); Barbara Swetman “St. Mary’s” and “Gallaher”; Blake Morris “Ireland” (B. Morris); Dan Brittain “Pohick” (D. Brittain). After these songs, Dan Brittain answered questions about composing shape-note music.

That evening a delightful dinner party was hosted by Mimi Stevens at her home in Alexandria, Virginia.

Sunday, April 7

The convention resumed at Hearst Hall, National Cathedral School, Washington, DC, with Mary K. Friday leading the song on page 77b. The opening prayer was offered by George Seiler.

Leaders: Dorothy Hurley 271t; Blake Morris 415; Janine Smith 274b; Sarah Davie 171; Pat Temple 48t; Kelly Macklin 27; Mary Wright 71; Mimi Stevens 183; Steven Sabol 53; Elise Meyer-Bothling 63; Kat Kincaid 372; Eric Hildebrant 228, John Hewes 245; Phyllis Gonigam 344; Joanne DeVoe 147t; Tom Tucker and Ginny Ely 454; Joseph Christopher 148; Frank Evans 117.


The class was brought back to order with George Seiler and Gillie Campbell leading the song on page 31t. Leaders: Rhonda Hendershot 159; Hal Kunkel 530; Nancy Van Den Akker 445; Bob Parr 200; Reba Windom 192; Dan Brittain 355; Susan Jaster 497; Tom Padwa 480; Paula McGray 446; Bobby Bailey 87; Karen Snowberg 551; Willie Israel 268; Sue Hanson 479; Brad Oglesby 365; Diane Menella 229; Bill Holt 419; Tim Slattery 112.

The session was then turned over to the Memorial Committee. Blake Morris read Psalm 122 and texts from Gadsby’s Hymn Book. He said that we are greatly in debt to the poets of our religious tradition. Not only did they capture the essence of our faith in poetry, but in many cases they were able to infuse the words of hope and praise from the Old Testament, especially the Psalms, with a specifically Christian message of hope in eternal life.

Jean Seiler led song on page 384 for the following deceased from the Northeast: Maryland—Joe Kochanski, Louise Yates, Adell Dawson, Dottie Wilson-Moy; Massachusetts—Lawrence Brooks, Richard Atherton; Pennsylvania—George A. Smith, Penny Smith, Florence Siple, Alice Hemenway.

Reba Windom led song on page 418 for the following deceased from the Southeast: Alabama—Johnnie Sue Beasley, A. L. Beckett; Arkansas—Russell Wiberg; North Carolina—Quay Smathers; Virginia—Jeffrey Foster Slattery, Evelyn Goode, Ann Harris, Freddie Baughan; West Virginia—Bill Heinike.

Brad Oglesby fondly recalled deceased Alabama singer Leonard Lacy and led the song on page 101t for the following deceased from the Midwest and West: California—Gail Rich; Colorado—Katharine Sayvetz; Washington—Kay Cox.

Kelly Macklin read the names of the sick and shut-ins: Maryland—Klaus Meyer-Bothling, Kelly Ann Gesswein, Alene Oestreicher, Allen Henkin, Gayle Jaster, Joyce Kehler, Laurie O’Connell; Pennsylvania—Sharon Ezelle; Alabama—Amanda Denson; North Carolina—Cynthia Valentine; Virginia—Jeannine Hunter, Bertha Stevens, Zachary John Pate; Ohio—Margaret Centa; Wisconsin—Bob Scorgie; Arizona—Marie Davie.

Kelly Macklin paid tribute to Amanda Denson for helping to teach singers in the mid-Atlantic area the practices and depth of the Southern Sacred Harp tradition.

Blake Morris led the song on page 52b for the sick and shut-ins. George Seiler closed the Memorial Lesson with prayer.

Mary K. Friday led song on page 180. George Seiler offered grace before lunch.


Ginny Ely brought the class back together with the song on page 502. Leaders: Donna Abrahams 378b; Kelsey Taylor 278b; Anna Taylor and Leyland delRe 388; Gina Balestracci 274t; Berkley Moore 435; Brenda Peña 39b; Doron Henkin 224; Richard Schmeidler 334; Ted Mercer 458; Jean Seiler 127; Guy Banks 236; George Seiler 84; Dan Huger 61; Karen House 48t; Sharon Kellam 324; Kelly House 362; Roland Hutchinson 299; Ginny Ely 391.


Hal Kunkel brought the class back to order with the song on page 72b. Leaders: Karen Foley 455; Paul Gauthier 492; Charles Butler 107 (signing for the deaf); Fred Beardsley 532; Ella Wilcox 34b.

The Resolutions Committee thanked:

  1. all of the officers and committee members who worked tirelessly to make this convention a success, as well as all the singers who came from near and far to create a wonderful sound;
  2. Dan Brittain for leading the singing school which was helpful to both skilled and unskilled singers;
  3. Bob Hall for exceptionally hard work to organize the luncheons;
  4. Miriam Kilmer for designing the flyer;
  5. Steven Sabol for locating and publicity work;
  6. Mimi Stevens for hosting the social;
  7. and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington for sponsorship.

Registrants came from the following states: Alabama, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

The Finance committee reported that the generous contributions were sufficient to meet the expenses of the convention.

The chairman announced that the dates of the next Potomac River Convention will be March 27-29, 1998, one week earlier than usual in order to avoid a conflict with Palm Sunday.

The officers led song on page 62 and the class took the parting hand. The class was dismissed with prayer led by Evan Duncan.

Chairman—Mary K. Friday; Vice Chairman—Cathy Tucker; Secretary—Steven Sabol.