Allison's Sacred Harp Singers - Heaven's My Home: 1927-1928

Published Wednesday 12th April 2006
Allison's Sacred Harp Singers - Heaven's My Home: 1927-1928
Allison's Sacred Harp Singers - Heaven's My Home: 1927-1928

STYLE: Country
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 16485-9174
LABEL: County COCD3531

Reviewed by Chris Tozer

Time was when music notation took on many forms in the western world. This CD celebrates the shape-note version that was hugely popular amongst congregations of America's Deep South in the 19th century. It was already close to extinction in the late 1920s when George and James Allison and a handful of friends from rural Alabama headed north to Indiana to record, for posterity, a selection of songs from the Sacred Harp hymn book - the best known publication containing Shape-Note notation - which used four different shapes, on the top of notes, to aid the singers. With currently over a hundred million hits on Google, there is clearly a great deal of interest today in what is, in essence, a non-commercial form of folk music very different to anything you're likely to have heard before. With minimal instrumentation from piano and harmonium, the Sacred Harp Singers maintain a 'finger-in-your-ear acappella drone as they work their way through gems that were well known amongst the yeomanry of pre-Civil War America - including "Amazing Grace" like you've never heard it before. Lyrically, with their yearning for Heaven and the end of life's woes, the songs provide the missing link between Negro spirituals and Southern gospel music as currently promoted by Gaither's Homecoming Friends. Though definitely not for the faint hearted, this is an album that deserves a wide hearing in both Christian and folk music circles. I wonder if there will be an equal outpouring of affection for contemporary worship in another couple of centuries.

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