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Mississippi’s African American Shape NOte Tradition are African American Harpists!

 Harps and lyres


African American Harpists is not

often talked about in music. But pieces

of information over here and over there

gives you insight on the BLACK harpists.

That just shows how the internet helps

alot. Knowledge is there on the internet,

but it takes some different methods

to find this info. Anyways, here is

the history of the African American Harpists

in MIssissippi.

BY 1977, the Black Sacred Harp

State Convention made the decision

to present a man named Mr. ENochs

with a plaque. He received his plaque for

his long service with the company.

Shape Note singers have been

a part of the African American

community in MISSISSIPPI for many

many years. While it does not

get as much attention as it needs

because of racial issues, one

particular person is the exception.

Joe DAn BOyd’s article NEgro

Sacred Harp SOngsters in Mississippi

was published in the MIssissippi Folk

REgister in 1970. Also there was

a short segment of THEy sing of Heaven

which documents African American shape

note tradition a little.

There are some reasons

why there is obscurity involving

the Mississippi Sacred Harpists

and those being:

notation styles, tempo, mannersisms,


THe Black Sacred Harp

State Singing Convention uses

a scale of do re mi fa so la ti.

Other states use the fa sol la

fa so la mi scale scale.

Black Sacred Harp

singers of Mississippi transpose

the 4 note scale to 7 notes as tehy sing comes

from their decision to use BF White’s 4

Note Sacred Harp Book that was published

in 1844.

Black Mississippi Sacred Harp

singers also use a slower tempo and

enjoy the slower songs better.

THe 1992 Black Sacred Harp State

Convention has a special award ceremony

which acknowledges members for their

years of service and committment to

convention. Four members earned certificates

of Appreciation and other members earned

plaques for being founding and

active members of the convention since


African American shape note

singing started off in the AMerican

singing school movement which

came to the GREAT Awakening of the

early 1800s. It is not known WHAT

PART of Mississippi that the African
American Sacred Harp was introduced.



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