Academic journal article The Hymn

"I'll Keep on Singing" the Southern Gospel Convention Tradition

Academic journal article The Hymn

"I'll Keep on Singing" the Southern Gospel Convention Tradition

Article excerpt

"I'll keep on singing'

The southern gospel convention tradition

by Stephen Shear on and Mary Nichols.

Murphreesboro: Middle Tennessee State University, 2010. DVD, 56 minutes. US $15.00.

This documentary surveys Southern gospel music, particularly as it takes place in gatherings called "conventions." Its twelve segments flow smoothly from one to the next, and these are indexed for easy location of a particular topic. The work of two professors at Middle Tennessee State University - musicologist Stephen Shearon and media production specialist Mary Nichols - their contribution is entirely off camera, as the story is told by participants in the tradition: publishers, writers, leaders, and pianists. They share the experiences of enjoyment, community, music-making, worship, and education that are intertwined in the convention.

Though the focus is on conventions, attention is also given to singing schools and camps, to the use of this music in the church, and to the professional manifestation of this style in quartet singing. Those interviewed describe both the relation to the Sacred Harp tradition and distinctions from it. Chief among these are that Southern gospel is notated in seven shapes and that it is accompanied by piano, which infuses a particular style of rhythmic vitality (the unsigned notes in the case make reference to stride piano, although, in fact, accompanists distinguish themselves by their individual idioms. …

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