October 4, 2007

Record Review: Sacred Hard Recordings

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I’m a little late on this one, but cut me some slack. I Belong To This Band: 85 Years of Sacred Harp Recordings is a compilation of various Sacred Harp performances. Sacred Harp is a traditional style of sacred choral music that took root in the American South. This record includes some of the earliest recordings of Sacred Harp singing, some home tapes from the 1950s and some contemporary stuff, too. Sacred Harp singing is performed with the singers standing in a circle, facing one another, as opposed to your traditional choir, projecting out from the back of the church. That communal fervor and passion really comes through. The large number of singers, and the lack of a “leader,” allow all the timbres of the various performers to mingle and drift around in ghostly and strange combinations. Things get pretty eerie at times. But that is not bad. It’s the weirdness that makes this so stirring.