The ring shout is the oldest known African American
performance tradition surviving on the North American continent.
Performed for the purpose of religious worship, this fusion of
dance, song, and percussion survives today in the Bolton Community
of McIntosh County, Georgia. Incorporating oral history,
first-person accounts, musical transcriptions, photographs, and
drawings, Shout Because You're Free documents a group of
performers known as the McIntosh County Shouters.
Derived from African practices, the ring shout combines
call-and-response singing, the percussion of a stick or broom on a
wood floor, and hand-clapping and foot-tapping. First described in
depth by outside observers on the sea islands of South Carolina and
Georgia during the Civil War, the ring shout was presumed to have
died out in active practice until 1980, when the shouters in the
Bolton community first came to the public's attention.
Shout Because You're Free is the result of sixteen
years of research and fieldwork by Art and Margo Rosenbaum, authors
of Folk Visions and Voices. The book includes descriptions
of present-day community shouts, a chapter on the history of the
shout's African origins, the recollections of early outside
observers, and later folklorists' comments. In addition, the tunes
and texts of twenty-five shout songs performed by the McIntosh
County Shouters are transcribed by ethnomusicologist Johann S.
Buis.Shout Because You're Free is a fascinating look at a
unique living tradition that demonstrates ties to Africa, slavery,
and Emancipation while interweaving these influences with worship
and oneness with the spirit.
Subjects: Music, Sociology
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