Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Potomac River Convention

Washington, D.C.

March 27-29, 1998

Friday, March 27

A singing school was held beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, at the Pohick Episcopal Church, Lorton, Virginia. It was taught by Clarke Lee and David I. Lee, and drew an unprecedented crowd for a Potomac River Singing School.

Saturday, March 28

The ninth annual Potomac River Sacred Harp Singing Convention was called to order at 10:00 a.m. by Mary Kay Friday leading song on page 77b. Donna Abrahams led the opening prayer. Officers from 1997 were called on to lead: Vice Chair Cathy Tucker welcomed the class and led 34b; Secretary Steven Sabol 81t; Chair Mary Kay Friday 120.

The business meeting was held with the election or appointment of the following officers and committees: Chair—Cathy Tucker; Vice Chair—Janine Smith; Secretary—Miriam A. Kilmer (assisted by Mary Kay Friday, Tim Slattery, and Cathy Tucker); Chaplain—Donna Abrahams; Arranging Committee—George Seiler, Tim Slattery, Clare Chapin, Bob Parr, Anne Kazlauskas, and Peter Pate; Finance—Gillie Campbell; Memorial Committee—Blake Morris, Kathy Lee, and Julie Lee (assisted by Beth Todd, Kathy Manning, and Marty De Nys); Resolutions Committee—Bob Hall and Ella Wilcox; Registration—Kacy Pate, Peter Pate, Marlene Levine, and Janine Smith; Food—Jeff Lund, John Taylor, Kathy Manning, Elly Escobar, and Christopher Steven; Social Host—Mimi Stevens, Leanne Wiberg, Marlene Levine, Dick Levine, Matt Levine, and Janine Smith; Child Care—Caroline Arlington, Tara Test, and Ella Wilcox (assisted by Leland delRe, John Daniel delRe, and Don Pauley); Housing and Transportation—Tom Tucker; Publicity—Steven Sabol and Miriam Kilmer.

Leaders: Tim Slattery 168; Beth Hoffman Reed 300; Janine Smith 124; Ella Wilcox 66; Kelly Macklin 32t; Tom Tucker 504; Kathy Lee 148; Kacy Pate, Peter Pate, and Zachary Pate 440; Lee Rogers 270; Laura Densmore, Colleen Hommel, and Mary Lynn Moody 163b; Pauline Childers 36b; Beth Todd 335; Sarah Smith 290; Barbara Swetman 390; Kathy Manning 99.

RECESS

John delRe called the class together leading song on page 39t. Leaders: Anne Kazlauskas 179; Mary De Nys 547; Jim Wantland and Carly Gewirtz 200; Judy Mincey 556; June Matthews 198; David Lee 196; Jean Seiler 209; Leland delRe 212; Blake Morris 67; Hal Kunkel 380; Bill Holt 419; P. Dan Brittain 513; Gary Smith 31t; Paul Gauthier 542; Max Berueffy 384; Paula McGray 129; Clarke Lee 503.

Cathy Tucker called for a show of hands for the United States and Canada. There were representatives from: Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Nova Scotia.

Donna Abrahams offered grace. Ginnie Ely led song on page 454.

LUNCH

The afternoon session was called to order with Dick Levine leading song on page 155. Leaders: Roland Hutchinson 250; Doron Henkin 245; Sharon Kellam and John Kellam 567; Johnny Lee 33b; Lynne deBenedette 216; Ted Stokes 125; Guy Bankes 287; Esther Huckaby 358; Sandra Hack Polaski 217; Bradford West 189; Kyle Greenlee 183; Karen Snowberg 362; Craig Baum 178; Cath Oss 367; Allen Fannin 445; Ginny Landgraf 383; Don Polaski 532; Elise Meyer Bothling and Julie Lee 63; Henry Schuman 344; Mary Swope 273.

RECESS

Max Berueffy brought the class together leading song on page 76b. Leaders: Richard L. Schmeidler 474; John Daniel delRe and Tommy Hall 49b; Donna Abrahams 378b; Clare Chapin 484; Gina Balestracci 48b; Dottie Hurley 271t; Bob Parr 208; Walter S. Hartley 65; Kat Kinkade 163t; Anita Landess and Diane Sherwin 480; Gail Doss 117; Joe Todd 71; Patricia Temple 566; Lois Hirt 49t; Don Bowen 475 (for Jeannette DePoy); John delRe 144; Diane Mennella 313b; Mary Ann Daly 114; Ellie Soler 277; Cathy Tucker 146. Dan Brittain and Mary Kay Friday closed with P. Dan Brittain’s “Pohick”.

RECESS

New Traditions Singing—Mary Ann Daly greeted the class, and led 72b from The Sacred Harp. The songs below were led by their own composers unless otherwise noted. Leaders: Tom Tucker “Wantland”; Mimi Stevens “Ogontz”; Doron Henkin “Norristown”; Gina Balestracci “Relly’s Third” (by Roland Hutchinson); Ginny Landgraf “Palfrey”; Cathy Tucker “Windgate” (by Tom Tucker); Gina Balestracci “Hallelujah New” (by Roland Hutchinson); Barbara Swetman “Ohio” (by P. Dan Brittain); P. Dan Brittain “Self Examination” (by John Bayer, Jr. and P. Dan Brittain); Hal Kunkel “Shepherds Joy”; Don Bowen and David I. Lee “Symyadda 11’s” (Old Sand Mountain Melody); Nicholas P. Schliapin “New Vision”; Mary Ann Daly “Fear Not”; Kat Kinkade “Deluge”; Blake Morris “Comforter”; Mary Ann Daly “Alexander” (by Miriam A. Kilmer); Bradford West “Number Six”; Dianne Mannella, “Merritt” (by Bradford West); Doron Henkin “Memorial Bridge”; P. Dan Brittain “Ruth”; Kat Kinkade “Bowen” (by John Bayer); Nicholas P. Schliapin “Nantahala”; Hal Kunkel “Ten Thousand Charms”; Roland Hutchinson “Usher”.

A Saturday night social was hosted by Mimi Stevens at Kilmer Hall. The atmosphere was informal and spontaneous. The Lee family led singing from “Primitive Hymns” and demonstrated “the drone”, a practice whose origin is lost in the mists of time.

Sunday, March 29

The opening session was called to order by Cathy Tucker leading song on page 122. Donna Abrahams led the morning prayer. Leaders: Miriam Kilmer 178; Phyllis Gonegam 344; Eric Hildebrant 228; Mimi Stevens 183; Joyce Wade 236; Dick Levine 68b; George Seiler 84; Fred Beardsley 149; Rosemary Greenaway and Susanne Garmsen 312b; Sarah J. Davie 145b; Claudia Egelhoff 210; Marcus Merrin 117; Steven Sabol 42; Ginnie Ely 349; Tim Brown 38t; Kim Davison 214; Ester Huckaby 143; Don Bowen 64; Frank Evans 268; Johnny Lee 111b; Roland Hutchinson 112; Judy Mincey 540.

RECESS

The singing resumed with Jim Wantland leading song on page 49 (t? b?). Leaders: Guy Bankes 350; Lynne deBenedette 385b; Lee Rogers 176b; Sarah Smith 354b; Joanne De Voe 91; Paula McGray 156; Kathy Lee 385t; Max Berueffy 171; Pauline Childers 234; Clarke Lee 426t; Jean Seiler and Gillie Campbell 106; Bill Holt 269; David Lee 82t.

Blake Morris opened the memorial lesson. Kathy Lee reminded us that “there will be somebody of our number that will not be back...and the only thing that matters is the love that we have for one another.” Kathy Lee and Julie Lee led song on page 285 (t? b?) for the deceased from the South.

Kathy Manning reminded us that, “We are really a family”, as she spoke about Susan Wantland, one of our local singers who died during the past year. She called up all those singers present who had sung for Susan’s funeral to lead 176 (t? b?). Julie Lee read the names of the deceased from the East.

Marty De Nys spoke about his parents who had enjoyed the recording of the Garden State Convention during their last illness. “You touch more lives than you know.” He led 147 (t? b?).

Kathy Lee read the names of the deceased from the West.

Beth Todd spoke about her grandmother, Nelly Shuttlesworth (deceased about twenty years ago), whose accepting attitude toward death was epitomized in her saying, “that was a good funeral!” Beth Todd led song on page 501.

Names of the deceased by state: Alabama—Mamie Creel, Seldon Creel, Hadyn Creel, Keterina Sanders, John Forman, Vernice Calvert, Ila McGhee, and Kim Cagle; Colorado—Katherine Sayvetz, Susannah Chase, and Marian May; Florida—Janet Rogers; Georgia—Anne Block, Silas Lee, Sarah Peacock, Jean Phillips, and Jerry Huckeba; Illinois—Catherine De Nys, John De Nys, and Mary Norris; Massachusetts—Madolin McGray and Martin Diskin; Maryland—Susan Wantland and Tom Harding; North Carolina—Nellie White Newberry Segars; New York—Gene Aguilera; Pennsylvania—Anthony De Fusco; Virginia—Frances F. Kilmer; Nova Scotia—Faye Armsworthy; Eugene Schaumacher.

Blake Morris spoke of his own recent serious illness, and of how such an experience reminds us of the frailty and shortness of our lives. Julie Lee read Psalm 126 “The Lord has done great things for us.” Donna Abrahams read the names of the following sick and shut-ins: Alabama—Jeff Pritchard, Marie Aldridge, Lucile Tolbert, David Shirey (husband of Amanda Denson), Jap Walton, Rosa Hughes; Florida—Lynn Googe; Georgia—Laurie Allison and I. V. McWhorter; Indiana—Richard Allison; Maryland—Allen Henkin, Tom Padwa, and Clay Welch; Massachusetts—Elsie Lawless and William McFarlane; Minnesota—Arthur John Spring; New York—Samuel Lynch; Oregon—Blanch Payne; Pennsylvania—Edna Lundgren; Texas—Kelly Beard; Virginia—Ralph Halliburton, Mary Hulburt, Mary Wright, Joey Potter, Sheila Sweeney, and Bart Dickason; Wisconsin—Bob Scorgie and Joe Weber; Nova Scotia—Jolene Jarvis and Elsie Bailly. Blake Morris led 103 in their honor. Donna Abrahams spoke about her sister Lynn Googe, who has cancer. “There is so much safety and there is so much love here.” She read from “The Mourners’ Kaddish”: “Let the name of the Holy One be Exalted....”

Leaders: Bradford West 448t; Karen Snowberg 551; Paul Gauthier 371. Clarke Lee offered grace.

LUNCH

The class reconvened with Beth Hoffman Reed and Jeff Reed leading song on page 155. Leaders: Ginny Landgraf 102; Gary Smith 569b; Gerry Hoffman 216; Anna Taylor and Kelsey Taylor 77t; Laura Densmore and group 99; Kacy Pate, Peter Pate, and Zachary Pate 396; Rhonda Hendershot 198; Mary Brims 146; Cath Oss 59; Alice Sharpe 191; Evan Duncan 479; Elizabeth Cusick 277; Gina Balestracci 56b; Richard Schmeidler 254; Charles Butler, III 114 (signing for the deaf); Jason Law 481; Henry Schuman 318; Bob Parr 215; Anita Landess 515b; Anne Kazlauskas 95; Lois Hirt 358; Joe Todd 455; Barbara Swetman 475; Beth Todd 101t; Hal Kunkel 470; Walter S. Hartley 299; P. Dan Brittain 436; Doron Henkin 224; Donna Abrahams 377.

The Resolutions Committee thanked the officers, committees, and all participants. To God our Father, who gives us life, music, food, and beautiful weather, as well as the joy of friendship, thanks and praise. Thanks to the Lee family, including David and Kathy, Clarke and Julie, whose singing school gave us new insights into the tradition and the importance of the bonds that connect us.

A report from the finance committee stated that all expenses had been met for the convention.

During Saturday and Sunday, 135 different songs from The Sacred Harp were led by 100 leaders (and a few co-leaders).

The convention was recorded by Don Nichols and Dolores Nichols of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington (our sponsor), in memory of Susan Wantland.

Cathy Tucker announced next year’s convention dates to be: April 23-25, 1999.

Cathy Tucker, Janine Smith, Miriam Kilmer, Gillie Campbell, and Mary Kay Friday led song on page 62 as the closing song, and the convention was dismissed with prayer by Donna Abrahams.

Chair—Cathy Tucker; Vice Chair—Janine Smith; Secretary—Miriam A. Kilmer.