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“On the Way to Glory”

“On the Way to Glory”

The Shape-Note Tradition

(p.74) Chapter 4 “On the Way to Glory”
Downhome Gospel
Jerrilyn McGregory
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the shape-note tradition, which is considered to be one of the most obscure forms of sacred music still practiced by African Americans. It traces how Sacred Harp music entered into the African American lexicon of songs and offers information on the Wiregrass Singers of Ozark, Alabama, who are the last representatives of the four-shape notation system. The chapter also suggests that the coexistence of four-note and seven-note democratic systems reflects the African American communitarian outlook.

Keywords:   shape-note tradition, sacred music, African Americans, Sacred Harp music, Wiregrass Singers, notation system, democratic systems, communitarian outlook

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