Monday, June 22, 2015

Hi Singers,

A reminder of the Beech Grove Singing next Sunday with a meeting of the Board you're welcome to attend, plus singing opportunities in July.

Sunday, June 28th, 12 PM Annual Beech Grove Primitive Baptist Church Dinner and Singing. Sevier County, TN.  From Pigeon Forge heading toward Gatlinburg on Rt.#441, take the first right onto Caney Creek Rd.  Look for a sign for the church.  It is two miles or so on the left.  Bring a dish to share, for more info, Sharee Green, 865-654-3557. Followed by annual Friends of NHC meeting.

Here are your Old Harp shape note singings for July 2015.  All invited, tune books provided, and it's free!  Website

Sunday, July 12th, 2:00 PM Little Greenbrier School Singing, Great Smoky Mtns. Nat'l Park. Two hour long singing. Thanks to Robin Goddard for coordinating this event. No Epworth Singing at the Laurel Theater in Knoxville this month since we are singing here.

Directions to Little Greenbrier School:  From Knoxville/Maryville:  Go Hwy. 321 through Townsend.  Turn left at the only traffic light in Townsend and continue on 321 to Wears' Valley.  As you get in the straight a way past Headrick's Chapel, turn right on Lyon's Springs Rd.  ( Real-estate Co/ Ice Cream Shop on corners) Continue on Lyon Springs up the hill going into the Park. This is the back entrance to Metcalf Bottoms.  Turn left on the first gravel road. This goes to the schoolhouse.  There is only room for approx. 20 cars, so it would be helpful if you would go on to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and carpool to the schoolhouse.  This is a very narrow road and you must back down if you meet someone! It will be hot so bring water and fans!

From Gatlinburg:  Follow Little River Road from Sugarlands Visitors'Center.  Go 9 miles to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area.  Turn right into the Picnic Area , Cross the Bridge, bear left and the gravel road to schoolhouse is around the second curve. There will probably be many visitors as this is Sunday afternoon and the program is printed in the Smokies Guide and will be on the TV monitor at the Visitors' Center.

Saturday, July 18th 10:30 to 3:00 Old College Annual Harp SingingMcMinn County Living Heritage Museum, 522 West Madison Ave.,  Athens, TN  Cora Sweatt at 423 745-0248Cora Sweatt at 423-745-0248. Dinner on the Grounds at noon.

Tuesday, July 21st, 6 PM  McMinn County Living Heritage Museum, 522 West Madison Ave.,  Athens, TN  Cora Sweatt at 423 745-0248

Tuesday, July 21st, 7 PM Sevier County Monthly Old Harp Singing, Middle Creek United Methodist Church, 1828 Middle Creek Rd., Pigeon Forge, TN.  David Sarten at 865 428-0874.

Sunday, July 26th, 3 PM, Franklin Monthly Old Harp Singing, Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 210 N. Main St., Greeneville, TN.  Call Jeff Farr at 423 639-8211 to confirm.

Tina Becker, alto

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Here are your JUNE 2015 Old Harp Shape Note Singings for East Tennessee.  All are invited, tunebooks are provided, and it's free!  Website is

Saturday, June 6th, 10 AM- 3 PM  Greeneville/Franklin Annual Old Harp Singing, New Bethel Cumberland Presbysterian Church, Greeneville, TN  37743.  Potluck at noon.  Bring a dish to share. Directions from Knoxville: Take I-40E towards Asheville, at exit 421, take I-81 north toward Bristol.  Take exit 30, turning right onto TN-70, go 7.5 miles.  Turn right onto Cox Rd., church is on the right.  For info, contact Jeff Farr at 423-620-8267.

The second Sunday Epworth Old Harp Singing at Laurel Theater, June 14, is cancelled.

Tuesday, June 16th, 5 PM Old College Monthly Harp Singing, McMinn County Living Heritage Museum, 522 West Madison Ave., Athens, TN. For info: Museum, 423-745-0329, Cora Sweatt at 423 745-0248.

Tuesday, June 16th, 7 PM Sevier County Monthly Old Harp Singing, Middle Creek United Methodist Church, 1828 Middle Creek Rd., Pigeon Forge, TN.  David Sarten at 865 428-0874.

No Blount County Singing this month - the newsletter and website says June 4.

Saturday, June 27th11:00-2:00 PM McMinn County Living Heritage Museum is celebrating a "Living History Day" in Athens, TN, 422 Madison Ave. 423-745-0329. Sandwiches furnished. All Old Harp singers are invited to sing in the Religion section of the Museum. May dress in old fashioned attire if desired.

Sunday, June 28th, 12 PM Annual Beech Grove Primitive Baptist Church Dinner and Singing. Sevier County, TN.  From Pigeon Forge heading toward Gatlinburg on Rt.#441, take the first right onto Caney Creek Rd.  Look for a sign for the church.  It is two miles or so on the left.  Bring a dish to share, for more info, Sharee Green, 865-654-3557. Tentative: followed by annual Friends of NHC meeting.

Sunday, June 28th, 3 PM, Franklin Monthly Old Harp Singing, Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 210 N. Main St., Greeneville, TN.  Jeff Farr at 423 639-8211.
Coming up: 2:00PMSunday, July 12, Little Greenbriar Schoolhouse Singing in the Great Smoky Mtns. Nat'l Park.

Thanks for posting this,

Tina Becker, alto

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Larry Olszewski Memorial Singing - 2012

November 21, 2012
Laurel Theater, Knoxville Tennessee

Tina Becker moderating. She counted 42 singers and 23 listeners. All four parts were strong. The program was a little short, the food and fellowship comfortably long

107 - Holy Manna - Tina Becker

 94 - Devizes - Barbara Kemper
 20A - Fairfield - Claudia Dean
 42 - Lenox - Ryan Taussig
 67B New Year - Jeremy Shipp
180 - Whitestown - Ann Strange
 30 - Sion's Security - Bob Richmond
117 - Coronation - Kathleen Mavournin
 99 - Morning Trumpet - Claire Meggs
 68T - Paradise - Rebecca Dotson
 21A - Consolation - Leslie Booher
 74 - Never Part Again - Robin Goddard

The link below leads to a 20 minute condensed version of of the singing from a video made by Ryan Taussig, thank you Ryan

Beginning prayer by Jeremy Shipp. Some of the leaders in the video are Tina Becker, Ann Strange, Dave Becker, Bill Gooch, and Gid Fryer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Where’d we come from? Where’d we go?

by Ann Strange,  editor of the Old Harp Newsletter

As much as the people who sing Old Harp have changed over time, so have the places where we sing. From huge gatherings and popular Singing Schools in the mountains, to the current monthly and annual singings in various counties, this tradition has deep roots in East Tennessee. But our ancestors would be more than a little surprised to know this tradition is now “performed” live on the radio and TV! These days, more people get their Old Harp information from the internet or the listserve or Facebook than by mail or phone calls. And although East Tennesseans have always welcomed visitors, now we also go visit other singings and learn about other shaped-note traditions.

I think of our “year” starting with the Sugarlands Visitors Center singing as part of the “Festival of Christmas Past” when the mountains feel like they did before the national park. We still have many of our traditional singings in or near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—Pigeon Forge and Sevier County, Townsend and Blount County, Cades Cove and Wears Valley. I am excited that this year we will return to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse where Robin Goddard is the “schoolmarm” and loves to share Old Harp with her visitors each week along with the spelling bee competition. Robin also is our hostess at the singings at the Townsend Spring Festival and Cades Cove, where we recently moved from the Missionary Baptist to the Primitive Baptist church but since we’re the congregation, the singing is just the same.

Our annual singing at Dollywood in October at the 
chapel some Old Harp singers helped donate and restore.

We don’t sing in some of the places we used to and I miss them although we certainly have a busy calendar. The Museum of Appalachia wanted a more regular performance than our Saturday morning singings and we had a good discussion about it but we couldn’t work out the schedule and tickets. We don’t have a Christmas singing at Kathy Jones because, after surviving brain cancer for many years, she passed away this year. We also lost Connie Clabo but sang at his funeral. We happily welcomed three babies this year—Ethan Lawrence Green, Claire Annaliese White, and James Jeremy Shipp.

We didn’t sing in Pittman Center last year but the Wilderness Wildlife Week is a big hit and David Sarten is a fine moderator there and also at the monthly Sevier County singings which continue to grow. When I first started singing, we met at Helen Hutchison’s house in Knoxville every Sunday night. When she passed, we moved to the Laurel Theatre but not weekly. Now we just meet once a month and are asked to pay a modest rent but it is still the home of the Epworth Old Harp singers and Tina Becker is a fine President. We continue to miss Larry O but combining his annual memorial service with the Thanksgiving Eve singing has proved popular.

Andrew Whaley leads at the Laurel Theatre in Knoxville,
 Tennessee, traditional home of the Epworth Old Harp singers

I’m sorry we don’t have a monthly singing in Blount County right now but the annual singings are going strong.

I believe Cora Sweatt, in Athens, Tennessee, sells more Old Harp books than anybody else. She is a tireless promoter of Old Harp even though her family is well known in the Sacred Harp tradition and I regret that we don’t support her enough. She organizes the Old College singers who last year sang for the Polk County Historical Society, the First Baptist Church Sunday service, and an old fashioned downtown Christmas, and have plans to sing for schools and a music club this year.

Eddie Mash is often crossing the country each weekend looking for singings of any kind, preferably the ones that last all day or two days. He was the Chairman for the United Sacred Harp Convention held in Nashville last year and was a good representative for East Tennessee.  He also is an organizer of Camp Do Re Mi held in August in the mountains of North Carolina. Tennessee continues to hold the number one spot for attendance at the Camp. Several of us have gone each year to learn more, share more, and spend three days with the best folks in the world in one of the prettiest o host the event, welcoming everyone, making sure books are available, coordinating food, setting up and taking down tables and chairs, and sweeping up after the singing is over. Please remember to let them know how much you enjoyed the singing and support them by showing up. You know who is responsible for each singing by the “Contact” information on the calendar.

Leaders at Camp DoReMi.

The Board of Directors continues to monitor the book situation because our book will need to be reprinted pretty soon. Your donations are spent to keep this tradition alive which involves having books to loan at each singing and books for sale. This annual newsletter is pretty expensive to print and mail also.

The tradition continues because enough people care to show up and sing and encourage others to sing. We had fun sharing the tradition on the radio with the WDVX Blue Plate Special and singing at Blount Mansion in Knoxville which was included in WBIR’s Heartland Series holiday TV special. Participation in this tradition can lead to surprising places!
The Old Harp tradition was spread around the world thanks to 
our appearance on Knoxville’s WDVX radio’s Blue Plate Special.

We could sure use some help with social media information about Old Harp singing. If you can help upload photos and videos and make clickable links for each singing, we could use your skills.  And I can’t do this newsletter forever by myself. It may be the year you decide to become more involved with this tradition. As someone that Larry recruited and pushed along, I can guarantee you that you will reap more than you sow. So thank you for continuing this tradition and let me know if you want to get involved in other ways.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Samanthra - Christian Harmony

Nancy Olsen has recently suggested singing Samanthra. It was sung many years ago from The Christian Harmony by the Epworth community at Laurel Theater and is not in the New Harp of Columbia.  Bob Richmond has supplied a scan of the lesson from The Christian Harmony 2010, an image appears below.

Click on the image to access it with your computer for printing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

Kathy Jones was born on September 13th, 1954 in Niagara Falls NY and lived in the Knoxville area since 1967. Kathy was a graduate of Oak Ridge High School and received a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Tennessee. She formerly worked for IBM, and owned her own computer business before her illness. She was an active member of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist (TVUUC) Church.  
She sang alto in their choir. She was also an avid shape note singer with the Epworth Old Harp singers.
She enjoyed gardening until her health failed. She loved to play bridge and practice Tai Chi. Everyone that knew Kathy rejoiced in having her be part of their life. Kathy was a long term (14 years) brain tumor cancer survivor. She died at home of complications of her disease on March 31st, 2011. She was pre­deceased by her father, Frank S. Jones, and her special friend, Calvin Steed. She is survived by her mother Edna Jones; by her sisters, Laura Dodson, Mary Sample, Ann Marie Burns, Tricia Jones, Arlene Dueker; her brother Robert Jones; ten nieces and nephews and two grandnieces. 
The family, with apologies for not remembering others who supported Kathy throughout her illness, is especially grateful to her friends, Barbara and Lin Kemper, Rick Higginbotham, Janie and Rocky (now deceased) Disbrow and Ann Wayburn. A celebration of life was held at her church, TVUUC, on April 3rd 2011. A private memorial for her family will be held at a later date. Contributions in her memory may be made to her church,TVUUC, the Epworth Old Harp Singers, or to the American Cancer Society

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Please Help Us Record A Song

The Sevier County string band Boogertown Gap is recording a CD of old-time Christmas music. They have requested that we sing #130, "Joy to the World" for this recording. As they are doing most of the recording in April, we have suggested the regular Sevier County monthly sing as a good venue, see information below.

Most of the evening will be devoted to the "normal" gathering. A professional recording engineer will be on site to record "Joy to the World"; it is possible that we will do more than one "take", in order to get a satisfactory recording.

If anyone wants to meet up and drive with me from Knoxville, I will be leaving around 6:00. Call or send an email.

Note: The leaders of Boogertown Gap are my sister and brother-in-law:

Charles (Chaz) Barber
865-357-1869 (home)
865-640-5226 (cell)

Tuesday, Apr. 19th, 7 PM Sevier County Monthly Old Harp Singing, Middle
Creek United Methodist Church, 1828 Middle Creek Rd., Pigeon Forge, TN.
David Sarten at 865 428-0874.