According to today’s The Birmingham News:
About 200 people attended the first day of the 32nd annual National Sacred Harp Singing Convention on Thursday at First Christian Church on Valleydale Road, keeping alive a tradition that dates back centuries. …
Sacred harp [sic] never died out in Alabama and has experienced a world-wide renaissance. A group of five people from the United Kingdom sang Thursday in the convention. [p. 6B]
Early on, one of the elders of the convention (I didn’t catch his name) stood up to lead a lesson, and prefaced it by saying that things had gotten a little out of synch yesterday. He suggested, earnestly and forthrightly, that the class should look at the leader as much as they look at their books. He also mentioned something about someone who led two songs in a row yesterday. Apparently by missing the first day of the convention, I missed a certain amount of turmoil.
At lunch time, I wound up sitting at a table with two of those people from the U.K., along with a woman from Ireland, a man from Chattanooga, a woman from Massachusetts, a man from Knoxville, and Leland who sings with the Berkeley local singing in the summer. The Irishwoman, the Chattanoogan, and the two people from Yorkshire had all attended Camp Fasola earlier in the week, and had been at the convention yesterday.
“It sounds much better today,” said one of the campers. “Yes, there were problems with the front bench yesterday,” said another, adding that the people on the front bench were not together. Then there was cheerful talk of checking one’s ego at the door, and comments about how one person on the front bench still wasn’t quite in synch. “You’ve got to watch the leader,” said one, “after all, in a class this big, they’re the only ones most people can see.”