Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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National Sacred Harp Convention

Trinity United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

June 17, 18, 19, 1999

Thursday, June 17

The twentieth session of the National Sacred Harp Convention met at Trinity United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Alabama. Chairman Buell Cobb called Thursday’s session to order by leading song on page 31 (t? b?). Elder Jesse Roberts led the morning prayer. Leaders: Mark Davis 129; Kathy Williams 42; Ginnie Ely 546; Don Bowen 475; Patricia Temple 148; John Redman 532; John Merritt 358; Linda Thomas 391; Maxine Lacy 108t; Donald Smith 317; Lora Cargo 498; Jerry Lee 75; Ted Mercer 121; Jeannette DePoy 375; Elvin Morris 480; Jesse Roberts 376; Velton Chafin 540; Henry Bizzell 452; David Ivey 216; Rosemary Greenaway 203; David Atkin 34b; Diane Mennella 87; Henry McGuire 327.


The class was called to order by Richard DeLong leading song on page 57. Leaders: Daphene Causey 174; Duncan Vinson 421; Tom Tucker 385b; Roland Hutchinson 553; Chris Bell 384; Cassie Franklin 186.

The Convention then went into a business session. Officers were elected as follows: Chairman—Buell Cobb; Vice Chairman—Mark Davis; Secretary—Kathy Williams; Chaplain—Jesse Roberts; Arranging Committee—Cindy Franklin, Catherine Oss, Gina Balestracci, and Mary Wright; Memorial Committee—Cora Sweatt, Mike Hinton, and Dorothea McCowan; Resolutions Committee—Carla Smith and Pat Temple; Finance Committee—Don Bowen and John Redman.

Leaders: Lisa Davis 189; Cora Sweatt 47b; Mary Oruc 77t; Jerry Enright 271 (t? b?); Paula McGray 286; Kelly House 85; Richard Schmeidler 474.


The class was called back to order by Jerry Schreiber leading song on page 217. Leaders: Laura Clawson 72b; Hubert Nall 47t; Hilda Morrison 43; Sherrell Durand 127; A.C. McGough 454; Cathy Tucker 146; Henry Johnson 388; Lee Rogers 220; Mary Wright 290; Marie Aldridge 436; Gina Balestracci 419; Furn Kitchens 343; David Rust 125; B.J. Harris 503; Judy Hauff 536; Travis Keeton 99; Eugene Wakefield 168; Gaston White 159; Bill Hogan 96; Mirjana Lausevic 70b; Willie Israel 178; Sharon Kellam 270. Jesse Roberts led the blessing before lunch break.


The class was brought together after lunch by Jesse Roberts leading song on page 441. Leaders: Catherine Oss 430; Charlotte Ehrman 198; Gary Smith 569b; Karen Freund 378b; Freeman Wootten and Jewel Wootten 278b; Susan Bingham 340; Judy Whiting 171; Kurt Davis and Dustin McCowan 354b; Karen House 349; Helen Brown 287; Sharona Nelson 209; Mary L. Smith 53; Carla Smith 202; Lou Cotney 218; Bob Bonnell 285t; Teenie Moody 302; Ian West 36b; Jerilyn Schumacher 504; Robert Handel 153; Marlen Rust 313b; Carroll Lunsford 162; John Schaffer 515.

Chairman Buell Cobb closed Thursday’s session by leading song on page 82t. Closing prayer by Jesse Roberts.

Friday, June 18

Friday’s session was brought to order by Chairman Buell Cobb leading song on page 52 (t? b?). Elder Jesse Roberts led the morning prayer.

Leaders: Mark Davis 61; Kathy Williams 222; Jesse Roberts 183; Cora Sweatt 145 (t? b?); Patricia Temple 27; Don Bowen 350; John Redman 236; Gina Balestracci 312b; Catherine Oss 33b; Mary Wright 337; Cindy Franklin 198; Mike Hinton 543; Tim Eriksen 448 (t? b?); Judy Mincey 510; Marlin Beasley 408; Ros Clements 35; Hannah Roberts 328; Joan Aldridge 546; Berkley Moore 179; Alan Weeks 34b; Jean Schaffer 369.


Buell Cobb called the class to order leading song on page 352b. Leaders: John Plunkett 355; Ginnie Prater 460; Christie Allen 163b; Evelyn Harris 30t; Louise Holland 137; Lee Bradley 334; David Carlton 362; Sandra Williams 31t; Sarah Beasley Smith 108t; Tommie Spurlock 446; Dorothea McCowan 442; Stanley Smith 454; Nora Parker 276; Coy Ivey 384; Todd Troulias 155; Nate Green and Norma Green 68b; Janice Hecksel 46; Louis Hughes 176t; Mattie Townsel 176b; Barney Roberson 170; Judy Caudle 540; Walter Hartley 24 (t? b?); Hugh McGuire 377; J.L. Hopper 180; George Cox 348b.

Elder J.L. Hopper led prayer for lunch.


The class was called to order by Cindy Franklin leading song on page 317b. Leaders: Tim Cook 474; Toney Smith 227; Aubrey Barfield 480; H.J. Jackson 400; Ed Snell 335; Henry Zittrouer 143; Cecile Cox 282; Martin Creel 530; Elsie Moon 202; Ola Meadows 432; David Atkin 40; Seth Holloway 388; Nancy Van Den Akker 535; Cassie Franklin 475; Willie Mae Moon 225t; Philip Gilmore 278b; Tom Tucker 501b.


Ted Mercer brought the class to order leading song on page 106. Leaders: Richard DeLong 542; Henry McGuire 269; Jeannette DePoy 411; Mark Miller 39t; Jon Gregg 303; Charlene Wallace 532; Ann Ballard 277; Jon Giles 359b; Lois Hurt 551; Kenneth DeLong 572; Kiri Miller 378b; Warren Steel 360; James Howell 32t; Liz Bryant 492; Henry Johnson 288; Diane Mennella 73b; David Rust 201; Kathy Tucker 144; Eugene Wakefield 284; Travis Keeton 142; Hubert Nall 99; A.C. McGough 111 (t? b?); Warren Steel 367.

Buell Cobb led song on page 323t as the closing song to close Friday’s session. Jesse Roberts led the closing prayer.

Saturday, June 19

Saturday’s session was called to order by Chairman Buell Cobb leading song on page 75. Elder Jesse Roberts led the morning prayer.

Leaders: Mark Davis 74b; Kathy Williams 208; Jesse Roberts 380; Patricia Temple 481; Don Bowen 59; Mary Wright 324; Gina Balestracci 112; John Redman 497; Cora Sweatt 81t; B.J. Harris; Edward Howton 436; Eric Tweedy 504; Katie Jackson 176t; Eugene Forbes 566; Louis Hughes, Jr. 276; Gaston White 35; Tim Reynolds 228; Andy Morse 417; Jenny Acton 340; Edna Phillips 236; Mike Hinton 373; Linton Ballinger 299.


Coy Ivey reassembled the class by leading song on page 137. Leaders: Nell Estes 560; Elene Stovall 556; Leon Ballinger 268; Jo Dell Albi 385t.

The Memorial Lesson was presented. Mike Hinton’s comments: “This is a time that sets Sacred Harp singings apart from other musical gatherings. These moments, when we pause to remember our friends and loved ones who left this life since we sang together here last year, are very special moments.

The class that is gathered around that hollow square in the New Jerusalem is a little larger this year. Tired, frail bodies have been made whole, memories restored, sight and hearing made new, voices are vibrant. We rejoice for having known these dear people: they were mothers and daddies, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. We honor them all.

I would also like to say that “Sacred Harp Singer” is an all-inclusive term which includes those who sing in the class, those who sit in the congregation and listen, and those who prepare the food we enjoy, and others who love this music. I also like to think of the message these dear ones would have for us. I think they would tell us to be “flower singers.” My grandfather was asked by his friend Leon Odem to write the notes for verses Mr. Odem had discovered. The song is titled “Odem”, and it exhorts us to give roses to each other while we live. Don’t wait until we gather round a grave to say sweet things and present useless flowers. Life is the time for words of praise, the time to give flowers. Sacred Harp singers give each other flowers: in a hearty handshake, a hug, and words of encouragement. We’re “flower singers”, as we should be.

I also think our deceased friends would tell us to live our lives so that we too may join them to sing on around God’s throne. We don’t know if we will join them next month, next year, or ten years hence. We do know there will always be room for one more Sacred Harp singer in that class. And we’ll never, never take the parting hand!! Amen.”

The list of deceased was read. Alabama—Antoinette Swetman, Ada Godsey, Toma Preston, Alice Brothers Washburn, Cecil Gilliland, Maude Keeton, Vester Jones, Flossie Jones, David Shirey, Eloise Sellers, Elder Roy Avery, Herman Smith, and Ralph Heath; Mississippi—Cleo Hawkins and Johnny Porter; Tennessee—Margaret Wright, Harold Fair, Leon Ed Denson, and Lela Hamilton; Florida—Phillip H. Lee, Jr.; Georgia—Horace DeLong, Mary Frances Dannals, and Velma Richardson; California—Don Jolly; Indiana—Richard Allison; Illinois—Janet Borman; Massachusetts—William Vonarx; Texas—Joe Nelson and Luna Batson; New York—Elizabeth Crocker; England—Mel Williams and Pat Carter. “Amazing Grace” was sung in memory of the deceased.

In honor of the sick and homebound, the Memorial Committee: Mike Hinton, Dorothea McCowan, and Cora Sweatt, led song on page 475. The Committee led song on page 127 to honor singers. Mike Hinton led a prayer to close the Memorial Lesson.

Hugh McGraw made a presentation to honor the family of Mae Howton Seymour in recognition of her contributions to Sacred Harp music. Mrs. Seymour’s children, grandchildren, sisters, and brother led 371 in her honor.

Leaders: Lomax Ballinger 300; Peggy Bergman 218; Regina Glass 320; Alice Bejnar 484; Anne Chalker 146; Dorothea McCowan 304; Betty Wright 347; Charles Whitmer 524; Jim Carnes 209. Elder Jesse Roberts led prayer for the noon meal.


Judy Hauff called the class back together by leading song on page 215. Leaders: Hugh McGuire 217; Mark Miller 53; Jerilyn Schumacher 368; Jerry Schreiber 66; Carroll Lunsford 426t; Marlen Rust 290; Tim Eriksen 39t; Dennis George and Jarrod George 358; Walter Hartley 186; Amanda Denson 365; members of the “With One Accord” group from England sang selections from their repertoire; Kelly House 496; Berkley Moore 206; Karen Freund 56b; Jean Schaffer 168; Karen House 339; Charlotte Ehrman 34b; B.J. Harris 303; Kiri Miller 567; Ros Clements 77b; Ginnie Ely 502; Janice Hecksel 565; Laura Clawson 345b; Helen Brown 344; Jerry Enright 383; Carla Smith 298; Alan Weeks 73b; Rosemary Greenaway 171; Ian West 84; Judy Whiting 515.

The convention then went into a business session to hear committee reports.

The Finance Committee: John Redman and Don Bowen reported that contributions were such that all convention expenses were well met.

The Resolutions Committee: Carla Smith and Pat Temple proposes heartfelt thanks be given to the Creator who has gifted us with the Sacred Harp and our extended singing family. We give thanks for the gift of voices to praise and hearts to seek the old paths and walk therein. The Convention thanks all those generous souls who through their labors have made these wonderful days possible, particularly all the officers and committee members who have given of their time and talent. We propose special mention of the unseen hands who have set up, organized, and prepared food to nourish the bodies of our singing souls. We give a special thanks to Ann Ballard and Charlie Ballard who coordinated the meals. Lastly, the Convention owes a debt to the singers far and near who make up this body.

Secretary Kathy Williams reported that 421 people from 24 states, the United Kingdom, and Germany registered at the Convention over the three days. Also, 240 leaders were responsible for the singing of 248 songs over those three days. The breakdown of numbers for states and countries: Alabama—282; Georgia—30; Florida—16; Mississippi—12; New York—11; California—11; United Kingdom 8; Illinois—8; Massachusetts 7; Texas—7; Tennessee—7; North Carolina—6; Virginia—5; Louisiana—4; New Jersey—4; Colorado—3; Ohio—2; Indiana—2; Rhode Island—2; New Hampshire—2; Germany—2; Maryland—1; Minnesota—1; South Carolina—1; Pennsylvania—1; Connecticut—1.

A motion was made and carried that the reports be accepted as read, and added to the minutes. The business session was closed.

The officers then led song on page 62, and the singers took the parting hand to close the Convention. Elder Jesse Roberts led the closing prayer.

Following the day’s singing, a large group of singers made the traditional trip to Alabama Folk Life Festival’s City Stages to present a program of Sacred Harp Music.

Chairman—Buell Cobb; Vice Chairman—Mark Davis; Secretary—Kathy Williams.