The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum will host the music symposium Shared Traditions: Sacred Music in the South Feb. 26 -27, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. The program will feature live performances, a panel session, presentations, and music workshops. All Shared Traditions programs are free and open to the public. The event is co-sponsored by the USC School of Music and Brookland Baptist Church.
Shared Traditions will start with a meet-and-greet with Gullah storyteller Anita Singleton-Prather at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26 at McKissick Museum on USC’s historic horseshoe. Singleton-Prather, a recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, is a singer, actress, and the director and producer of Broadway Back In Da’ Woods Productions, a full-stage musical theater experience featuring the performance group The Gullah Kinfolk.
Friday evening will include a presentation at 6:30 p.m. by Dr. Eric Crawford on the topic of African-American spirituals in the South Carolina Sea Islands. Held at Johnson Hall at the Darla Moore School of Business on the USC campus, the talk will lead into a live performance of Circle Unbroken: A Gullah Journey from Africa to America by Singleton-Prather and The Gullah Kinfolk at 7 p.m.
Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia will host all program events on Saturday, Feb. 27. The day will begin with a panel presentation titled “Vocal Godliness: Gospel in Black and White” and will feature current research by graduate students from Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Following this session, Dr. Minuette Floyd will present on the topic of the music of the African-American camp meeting.
The keynote speaker, ethnomusicologist Dr. Cynthia Schmidt, will screen the award-winning documentary, The Language You Cry In, which tells the investigative story of discovering the significance of a Gullah song sung in the Mende language of Sierra Leone. Beginning with Dr. Lorenzo Turner’s research in South Carolina in the 1920s, the song becomes more layered in meaning through time on both sides of the Atlantic. Dr. Schmidt will share an update on her research and host a Q&A with the audience.
Following the keynote address, conference participants will have the opportunity to attend three music workshops focusing on shape-note and hymn-raising traditions. Led by practitioners and choir leaders, these workshops will provide the opportunity to learn about the history of these traditions and the chance to participate in fellowship and song. Saturday’s program will conclude with an evening concert, highlighting the songs and styles learned during the workshops.
A complete schedule is available on McKissick Museum’s website. For more information, call Saddler Taylor at (803) 777-3714.
This program is funded in part by the Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina Arts Commission.
Image: The Gullah Kinfolk