Clayton State’s Sacred Harp Singing School starts Friday

Although Clayton State University’s world-famous Spivey Hall is best known for the highest level of musical expertise, the Sacred Harp/Shape-Note Singing School, held this year on Friday, July 13 and Saturday, July 14, is an event that emphasizes participation under the instruction of clinician Nathan Rees.

Singers and history buffs alike will enjoy this annual event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

Sacred Harp singing, sometimes also called “fa-so-la” or “shape-note” singing, involves singing parts without instrumental accompaniment. The Sacred Harp repertoire includes psalms, fugues, odes and anthems by the first American composers (1770-1810), as well as folk songs and revival hymns (1810-1860).

This is a free, non-denominational community music event that emphasizes participation, not expertise. Participants will learn about Sacred Harp at a “Singing School” on July 13, and then join in a large community singing on July 14.

At Friday’s “Singing School” Rees will instruct beginners and experienced practitioners in the history, tradition, and performance practices of this authentic piece of Americana. Participants will learn how to read shape notes and watch a documentary on the tradition of Sacred Harp.

On Saturday, Sacred Harp singers will travel from throughout the Southeast for the annual singing and potluck luncheon at Spivey Hall. Members of the community are invited to join more than 60 singers in celebrating this wonderful tradition and are asked to bring a covered dish to share.

Both Friday and Saturday’s events are free and open to the public, but registering for Friday’s singing school is required. The registration deadline is Friday, July 13. Call 678-466-4481 to secure a spot for Friday’s Singing School to make a joyful noise in one of the country’s most beautiful concert halls.

Complete information on the Sacred Harp/Shape-Note Singing School can be found online at

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

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