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Historical Sacred Harp images (click photo for larger version)
Press Comments about "Awake, My Soul"
"If you're a fan of American roots music, you won't
want to miss 'Awake My Soul--The Story of the Sacred
Harp.' Filmmakers Matt and Erica Hinton have done a
fine job capturing the history, sound and spirit of
this unusual but compelling art form that, trust me,
you don't have to be religious to appreciate."
-Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune
"Awake, My Soul features some of the most raucous
group vocals that have been recorded."
"The film, and subject matter, is fascinating and
informative. Traditions such as Sacred Harp singing
run the risk of dying out, but filmmakers like the
Hintons do a great service to the American musical,
and historical, communities by fanning the embers to
cause interest in this tradition to continue to burn
"In the Hinton's fine documentary: You get the feel
of the people and the wonderful sound of the music,
and thankfully without any condescension. As an
introduction to Sacred Harp, it's as amazing as the
'Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp' is a
fascinating history of a raw, overwhelming,
unconventional form of Southern hymn singing."
"Matt and Erica Hinton's Awake, My Soul: The Story of
the Sacred Harp... succeeds in immersing the viewer in
a deeply-rooted and uniquely American musical
culture... Awake, My Soul captures amazing recordings
of the style in churches all over the American South."
-The Vanguard (Portland, OR)
On "I Belong to This Band: 85 Years of Sacred Harp
"To quote Leonard Cohen 'God is alive, magic is afoot' in the soaring magnificence of Southern sacred-harp choirs, a robust, harmonically intricate blend of country joy and unearthly drone. It is living worship, too. The thirty hymns on this companion to the documentary 'Awake My Soul' were recorded as long ago as 1922 and as recently as last summer."
-David Fricke, Rolling Stone
"[I Belong to this Band is] a wide-ranging and
satisfying overview of this powerful musical and
cultural heritage...hear the way these massive
assemblies of voices channel passion and fervor
through tradition. This is stirring stuff on many
levels. There's a rough-edged, yet perfectly-pitched
clarity and elegance to these sides that points to the
timelessness of Sacred Harp, giving solid evidence
that these bedrock sounds are at the heart of the
interchange that has enriched so much American music"
"I Belong to This Band is full of such history and
mystery. The amazing thing is how Sacred Harp can
sound so otherworldly, yet so American at the same
time." (5 stars)
- Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New Mexican
"The contemporary vigor of the latter tracks,
juxtaposed with the scratchy 78 transfers, argues well
for the harp's unwavering thrum."
- Steve Dollar, Time Out Chicago
"Spectacular... Get enough people singing weird
harmonies at the top of their voices and you start
feeling a little sorry for the devil."
-Joe Dempsey, Washington City Paper
"["I Belong to this Band" is] a wonderful introduction
to this vocal tradition, which includes some of
America's oldest songs."(Dean's List)
"Before punk's will and black gospel's spiritualism,
before the catharsis of power electronics ... there
was Sacred Harp singing... it is naked, incredibly
powerful music. The large-choir recordings on I Belong
to the Band swell when it feels like there's no room,
they beat wings against the windows. They almost made
me crash my car the other day. The unpolished quality
of the voices...only accentuates the music's unbr /idled
enthusiasm and sense of collectivity. Preservation is
one thing, but raising the dead is a different trick
-Mike Powell, Stylus Magazine
"["I Belong to this Band" is] joyful and otherworldly,
full of weird, perfect harmonies... the noises we make
when we open our mouths and bellow don't change all
that much, whether it's 1928 or 2006."