Matt and Erica Hinton, are Sacred Harp singers from Atlanta, GA who met while they attended Georgia State University, where Erica studied English and Film and Matt studied Religion and English. It was in Erica's documentary film class at Georgia State that the seed for "Awake, My Soul" was sown. Seven years later, the couple completed this massive project and in the process got married and had a baby, both of which took less time than making the film. Matt holds a Master's degree in Theology from Emory University (Atlanta, GA), plays guitar in a rock and roll combo, sells architectural antiques, and teaches religion at Morehouse, a historically black college in Atlanta. When Erica is not taking care of their daughter, Anna, she operates Sir Chalk and Bunn, a print shop devoted to the art of letterpress printing in which she sets movable type on a century old letterpress, all the while minding her p's and q's. Her letterpress makes a brief, but important, cameo in the first 5 minutes of the film. "Awake, My Soul: the Story of the Sacred Harp" is the Hinton's first feature length documentary.
Matt Hinton is available for speaking engagements and screenings of "Awake, My Soul" with question & answer sessions. Please direct all inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Lauderdale was born in Statesville, N.C. His father was a minister and his mother was a music teacher and choir director. He played drums in the school band and after graduation decided to become a solo performer in New York.
He impressed record producer Pete Anderson while in the Los Angeles production of Pump Boys and Dinettes and was recorded for the compilation A Town South of Bakersfield, Volume 2. He then sang backing vocals for various artists including Carlene Carter and Dwight Yoakam.
He is among Nashville's "A" list of songwriters, with songs recorded by artists such as Patty Loveless, Dixie Chicks, Mark Chestnut, Vince Gill and, notably, George Strait. He also contributed several songs to the successful soundtrack of the film, "Pure Country", starring Mr. Strait. He continues today with writing further songs that have been recently recorded by Gary Allan, Blake Shelton and the list is still growing. His own '90s recordings for Warner Bros., Atlantic and RCA garnered much critical acclaim and a loyal cult following, and his move to the independent Dualtone label gave him even more creative freedom and the wide-ranging audience he desired.
Besides his two solo albums for Dualtone, Lauderdale also drew acclaim for his pair of bluegrass albums with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. The first, I Feel Like Singing Today, pre-dated Stanley's celebrated national christening as part of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. The second, Lost in the Lonesome Pines, won a 2002 Grammy. In 2003, Lauderdale worked with the wide-open grooves of the roots/jam band Donna the Buffalo for the album Wait Til Spring. An album he wrote with longtime Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, Headed for the Hills, arrived in 2004.
Expanding his interests into the theatrical world, Lauderdale in 2001 portrayed George Jones in a musical version of Tammy Wynette's life at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He won three Americana Music Awards, including entertainer of the year in 2002 and toured as Mary Chapin Carpenter's opening act in 2004. He has hosted the Americana Music Awards for the past three years and won their first Entertainer of the Year and Song of the Year awards.He is currently in the process of completing two new studio albums to be released in 2006---one bluegrass, one country. (Jim Lauderdale.com)
Mac Powell and Tai Anderson are 2 of the 5 member band, Third Day (www.ThirdDay.com). The Atlanta based Christian rock band has racked up over 5 million albums and garnered many awards including 2 GRAMMY's. The two musicians got in early to help bring this film to the public, and are proud be work with Matt and Erica and their passionate work.
Jennifer Brooks began editing professionally in 1998, after earning her MFA from NYU's Graduate Film and Television Program. Her editing credits include PBS' acclaimed "Frontline", TBS "Storyline" (for which her pieces have been Emmy-nominated), several shows for MTV and VH1, and award-winning short films at Sundance and Slamdance. She has also done additional producing and editing for a PBS special, "American Talent" and "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." She currently lives in Atlanta.
John Plunkett, Atlanta, GA -John was initially exposed to Sacred Harp singing in the late 1970's through a choral group. He was reintroduced in the early 1990's and has been active in singing Sacred Harp ever since. He served as the coordinator of the 150th Session of the Chattahoochee Musical Convention in 2002, and that year arranged the publication of "The Chatlahoochee Musical Convention, 1852-2002: A Sacred Harp Historical Sourcebook" (Edited by Kiri Miller). Beyond the pleasure of Sacred Harp singing itself, he is an amateur researcher into the history of the Sacred Harp.
Richard DeLong - A lifelong Georgia singer. The DeLong family has been active in Sacred Harp singing for many generations. His great uncle, Doris, was an active composer and singing school teacher in the N. Fulton Co., Georgia. Richard has taught singing schools all over the United States and in England. He is the composer/ arranger of 2 songs in the current edition of the Sacred Harp and was a member of the music revision committee in 1991. With Ted Mercer, Richard co-runs "Morning Trumpet Recordings" seller of Sacred Harp audio recordings. www.morningtrumpet.com
Raymond Hamrick -Macon, GA.- Though he has childhood memories of Sacred Harp singing and attended Sacred Harp singing schools in the 1930', Raymond's interest in Sacred Harp singing did not take root until he returned from serving in WWII, and attended a singing with his older brother, Horace. His interest in this musical tradition has been unwavering ever since. He has been a constant resource for researchers and others that are interested in this music and its traditions. He corresponded with folk music researcher George Pullen Jackson in the 1950's and would maintain an active correspondence with Sacred Harp composer and singer A. M. Cagle until Cagle's death in the 1968. Raymond has been the de facto leader of the South Georgia Convention of Sacred Harp singers since the 1960's. He continues to actively support Sacred Harp singing wherever he can and he remains an active composer in music of this style. He is the composer of 6 songs in the 1991 edition. He was also a part of the music revision committee in 1991. He is 91 years old and still works six days a week as a watch repairman and jeweler in the same shop in Macon he has worked since the 1930's.
Richard A. Ivey - The Ivey family has been active in Sacred Harp singing for generations and are associated with the strong Sacred Harp tradition in NE Alabama on Sand Mountain and particularly at Liberty Baptist Church in Henagar. [Richards' father David is an active singing school teacher and leader/founder of CAMP FASOLA, a summer camp for teaching Sacred Harp]. Richard is 22 years old, and grew up singing Sacred Harp: " My parents have told me stories about how they would rock me to sleep singing Sacred Harp songs. I feel extremely priviledged to have grown up in a family that is involved in every aspect of Sacred Harp singing."
Rodney Ivey - Rodney has been around Sacred Harp singing all his life. He lives in Henagar, AL on Sand Mountain and is one of Sacred Harp's best ambassadors, as over the past 10+ years he has traveled extensively to support Sacred Harp singing. He is the Uncle of Richard Ivey, brother of David, and son of Coy, all of whom are featured in "Awake, My Soul."
Warren Steel - Warren was raised in New York state, where he discovered oblong songbooks in the public library. He first attended a Sacred Harp singing in Boston in 1972, and drove to an Alabama singing later that year. Since 1980 he has lived in Oxford, Mississippi, where he teaches at the University of Mississippi. He has written articles on Sacred Harp music, has taught schools and workshops, and maintains a large Sacred Harp web site. [see links for his site]
Judy Caudle - Eva, Alabama - Judy is a life-long singer and learned from her father, singing school teacher, J. L. Hopper in north, central Alabama. She is an active supporter of singings across the country and is known as a strong song leader. She has taught at Camp FASOLA the past several years.
Joyce Smith Walton - Pisgah, Alabama Joyce has been singing Sacred Harp since 1952 when she attended a singi-ng school at the church she was raised in. She was a natural and quickly learned the tenor, treble, and alto parts of these songs. When she was young, she always made it a point to sit next to the best singers so that she would learn from them. A.M. Cagle was an occasional guest of their home and would teach Joyce music. Joyce has taught singing schools for many years and is has been known to play bluegrass and country songs on the guitar. Joyce can be heard speaking on Alan Lomax's recording of the 1959 United Sacred Harp Convention: "A lot of times a preacher will get up and preach and it don't seem like it has any effect on anybody. But you let a band of God's children get together and get to singing--people's gonna feel it."
Hugh McGraw -Bremen, Georgia -- While he was raised attending singings. Hugh has "only" been an active Sacred Harp singer since the early 1950's when he attended a singing school with H. N. "Uncle Bud" McGraw (a distant cousin). Hugh has been one of the most important figures in the recent history of the Sacred Harp tradition, having served as executive secretary of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company since the late 1950's. In doing so he has been connected to many of the leading figures of the previous generation of singers, including A.M. Cagle and Ruth Denson Edwards. Further, he was instrumental in the spread of Sacred Harp singings to parts of America outside its southern home, through organizing groups to sing for folk festivals, on one hand, and through helping new singers organize "traditional-style" all day singings and conventions in the North and Midwest on the other. He has managed the publication of new editions of the Sacred Harp in 1960, 1966 and the current book with the most widespread use in 1991. He is the composer of 8 songs which appear in the 1991 edition. In 1982 Hugh was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Honor.
Carlene Griffin - A life-long singer in West Georgia, she is the daughter of Buford and Gladys McCraw. She has traveled great distances to support the Sacred Harp tradition and is most closely associated with the Sacred Harp community of West Georgia in general, and Holly Springs Primitive Baptist Church in Bremen, GA in particular.
Charlene Wallace - Charlene is a life-long singer in West Georgia, and is also closely connected to the community around Holly Springs Church. She has traveled extensively in support of Sacred Harp singing and has preserved much of the contemporary history of Sacred Harp in some of the scrapbooks located in the Sacred Harp Museum in Carrollton, GA. Charlene and her niece Carlene, have been long time members of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company's board of directors. Her caramel cake is legendary.
Jim Carnes -Montgomery, Alabama- Jim has been singing Sacred Harp since he was a teenager in north Mississippi. He grew up hearing his grandmother talk about all-day singings and "dinner on the ground", but her family had moved away from the Sacred Harp tradition years earlier. One Sunday morning, Jim and a high school buddy took some recording equipment out in the country to tape a Gospel singer at her home, and on the way back, with the windows rolled down, they passed a church with a few cars parked out front, a kettle of fish cooking on a fire, and a sound that they had never heard before coming out the door. They stopped asked if they could bring the recorder inside, and walked in to their first Sacred Harp singing. "The music got under my skin that day. In the next few places I lived - Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Chicago - I kept stumbling onto Sacred Harp singers. I like to think the music was tracking me down." Eventually, Jim moved back South, largely in order to be closer to the singings. He is the composer of "Rockport" in the current edition of "The Sacred Harp". Jim and his wife, Erin Kellen, made a film about the Wootten family of Sacred Harp singers in 2000, called "Sweet Is the Day." (Available from the Alabama Folklife Association at www.alabamafolklife.org. )
Elene Stovall - Elene is a life-long singer, and learned to sing from her father, D.M. Aldridge in West Alabama. She was one of a group of singers who traveled from West Alabama to the Newport Folk Festival in 1964. This is generally considered to be one of the first occasions southern singers brought the book north, and is therefore a milestone in the revival of interest in this music amongst those outside of the south. Elene is one of only three who are still alive who went on this trip. She is an active singer in the Birmingham, AL area and travels frequently to support other Sacred Harp singing communities.
Terry Wootten, Ider, Alabama - Terry is a life-long singer and is a member of the Wootten family, another of the many families that have preserved the Sacred Harp tradition on Sand Mountain. The Wootten family are most closely associated with Antioch Baptist Church in Ider, AL. Terry was a part of the revision committee which oversaw the 1991 edition of "The Sacred Harp" and is the composer of "Shining Star" in the book. A longtime singing school teacher, he is an important figure in the preservation and promotion of the tradition in NE Alabama. Terry tells the story that he learned to sing from "The Sacred Harp" by propping the book up on the steering wheel of his tractor while working his fields. He and his family are featured prominently in the film "Sweet is the Day" (see "Jim Carnes")
Jeff and Shelbie Sheppard - Jeff and Shelbie have been long time supporters of Sacred Harp singing throughout their adult lives. They have both traveled extensively to support other Sacred Harp singing communities, especially those located outside of Georgia and Alabama, that needed the support of 'traditional'singers. Jeff comes by his musical ability naturally as his father was a singing school teacher in south Georgia and south Alabama. In addition to serving on the 1991 Sacred Harp revision committee, Jeff is the composer of the song "Heavenly Land". Both Jeff and Shelbie are part of SHMHA, the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association (Jeff is the president), a non-profit organization whose mission is the promotion and preservation of Sacred Harp singing and its traditions. SHMHA runs the very popular Camp Fasola in Anniston, AL each summer. Shelbie has been the driving force behind the organization and publication of the now international 'Minutes' Book. This book is an annual publication that contains contact information for singers, a listing of annual singing opportunities, and the minute reports from the singings held the previous year.
Lonnie Rogers--Sacred Harp has always been an important part of Lonnie's life. He remembers his granddad and father singing, so he learned to do so as a child. He attended (the legendary singing school teacher) Tom Denson's singing school in 1935. He met his wife, Vivian, at a singing; her father, Newman E. Denney, was a singing school teacher. Lonnie has been active in supporting singings in West Georgia, but has traveled throughout the country to support the start of new singing communities. He served for many years as the secretary of the Chattahoochee Musical Convention, the oldest convention that still meets, having begun in 1852.
Ted Mercer - Though raised in the south, Ted did not encounter Sacred Harp singing until he moved to Chicago. He has been an active singer and promoter of the Sacred Harp tradition ever since that initial exposure in the early 1980's. Ted was one of the founding members of the Chicago based Midwest Convention in 1986. He is the composer of 2 songs in the current 1991 edition. With Richard Delong, Ted co-runs "Morning Trumpet Recordings" seller of Sacred Harp audio recordings. www.morningtrumpet.com
William Reynolds - Dr. Reynolds has spent his adult life as a teacher of church music, most notably at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He has done much to promote the cause of Sacred Harp singing and particularly in keeping the Baptist roots of this tradition alive and well, through his writings and lectures. Dr. Reynolds has exposed numerous students to the music of this tradition. He was taught to sing Sacred Harp by his father whose own father was a prominent Sacred Harp singer in Birmingham. He has been an advisor to the editions of the Sacred Harp since 1971, particularly regarding the history of hymn writers. One of the new songs in the 1991 edition, "Reynolds", was written by Hugh McGraw in his honor.