at Bethel Grove (?)
5 mi. S. of Farmington, Ark.
November 12, 1950
Reel 76 (Whole Reel)
Merlin Mitchell Attends and Describes a
"This is the day of a singing convention, in which the com-munity
gathers in the church. There's no religious service, but
the singing begins about 10:30 in the morning, and go to about
4 or 5 in the afternoon. The only thing that seems to bind the
little congregation together is an interest in music, an interest
in getting together to sing — very enthusiastically. And they
keep at it for five or six hours.
"Now we're going to try to pick up some of the numbers they
(Here is some singing)
"This is a group of young people singing a special number."
"That was a quartet of young people, who are singing from
one of the Stamps-Baxter — typical religious booklets. This kind
of performance marks a middle step between the traditional sing-ing,
that is, remembering, and the modern religious hymns."
"One thing about this kind of entertainment — the audience
pretty well has to know the songs or have a book to follow
in order to get the intellectual gist of the songs. The music
comes out pretty well, but the words are very indistinct in this
kind of scattered group singing.
"The only thing, I think, that is worthy of folklore in this
kind of performance is the fact that the individuals have to get
together and improvise the promotion of singing convention.
Now the leadership in this kind of thing is a very questionable
matter, One man in the choir is the one who keeps the ball rolling
but he's hesitant to appear too authoritative at any time. And
of course that's evidence of the critical nature of the indivi-duals
of a modern rural community. There's liable to be some
gossip spread around if any one individual appears to be too out-spoken.
Now some more members have drifted in. We've been here
about two hours. And the central part of the singing group is
enlarged a bit. And I'm going to try to pick up the songs they
are going to do by putting the microphone a little bit closer."
Collected by Merlin Mitchell
Transcribed by Mary C. Parler
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