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Vol. 22, No. 4: Winter 2016

Where Everything New Is Old Again: Southern Gospel Singing Schools

by Brooks Blevins

“The singing school may not have been a southern creation, but its proliferation in the post–Civil War years was largely a phenomenon of the South. Its survival, and revival, in the twenty-first century is almost exclusively a southern story.”

He looks like he should be in pads and a helmet, protecting a quarterback on some manicured Southeastern Conference field. But his massive hands and fingers frolic along the keyboard with the dexterity and unpredictability of mice in a late winter hayloft. He sits grinning through a goatee at the main piano, romping away at a tune he had never seen before yesterday, a new melody branded with the echoes of jangling strokes on pine walls and sunburned voices in two-door meeting houses. Twenty feet away, perched formally atop the second piano’s bench like a downy owl peeking from his nest, a wisp of a boy accompanies his massive partner. The lad’s eyes burn a hole in the songbook. His petite hands move effortlessly across the keys—a waterbug on a summer eddy. No wasted movements, no change of expression on his face. Two masterful musicians, bound to be ignored.

This article appears as an abstract above, the complete article can be accessed in Project Muse
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