Ozark church members celebrate sacred harp singing

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OZARK, AL. (WTVY) - Theresa Locke, Sacred Harp Singing Participant, says "The one that we have today is based on what we call 'Four Shape Notes' and it's really a system of singing."

Sacred harp singing is a type of singing that uses the shapes on the notes.

"Even though we have seven tones on the scale with the octave...this one uses the shapes of the notes to actually sing the melodies," replied Locke.

Locke says the music is prevalent across the United States.

"What's so unique about this one is that the blacks' of this Wiregrass area were able to master the art of four-shape singing," said Locke.

They even compiled a book that was written by the late Judge Jackson.
The book, The Colored Sacred Harp, contains numerous religious songs.

"Most of the lyrics are based on biblical type principles...Amazing Grace, Storms of Life, holding on to God beliefs..." replied Locke.

Sacred harp singing, sometimes called shape-note singing or fasola singing, teaches people to sing the notes before singing the words.

"More biblical...it's sacred...something sacred and dear to the heart. I'm surprised that there are young people now who actually take an interest in it," said Locke.

Sacred harp singing began in 18th century New England.
It was introduced in the Wiregrass in 1934 by Judge Jackson in Ozark.

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