"I'll Keep On Singing": The Southern Gospel Convention Tradition| 55mins
Director: Stephen Shearon | Producer: Stephen Shearon and Mary Nichols
Focus Years: 2010 | Country: United States
I'LL KEEP ON SINGING is a comprehensive documentary of the contemporary southern gospel convention tradition, an amateur Christian music-making and educational tradition that developed in rural America following the Civil War. It was a continuation of, and eventually displaced in popularity, the four-shape-notation sacred music tradition that flourished prior to the Civil War (known by many today as the Sacred Harp tradition). Gospel convention music is written in a later, more-popular musical style, employs seven-shape notation, and uses instrumental accompaniment â€” in particular stride piano. The traditionâ€™s songwriters have produced many excellent songs over the years (â€œIâ€™ll Fly Awayâ€ being the best-known), and professional southern gospel developed from it in the 1950s and â€˜60s as amateur activity declined.
Southern gospel convention singers today generally live in an arc running from West Virginia south and west to Texas. Most singers encounter the music in their home churches â€“ mostly white, Protestant, evangelical Christian churches in small towns and rural areas â€“ and then reinforce that contact with instruction at the many singing schools supported by the tradition. The documentary includes sections on convention singing, convention music, the use of this music in churches, the connections with professional southern gospel, singing schools, songwriting, convention piano, dinner-on-the-grounds, and the current state of the tradition.
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