January 13-14, 2017
Burlington, Vermont

We warmly invite you to join us in Burlington, Vermont for a winter singing school weekend. We are delighted to welcome film directors and long-time Sacred Harp singers Matt and Erica Hinton from Atlanta, Georgia, who will offer a screening of their documentary Awake My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp on Friday evening and teach a singing school on Saturday morning, followed by an afternoon singing. Saturday evening revered Americana musicians Tim Eriksen and Peter Irvine will give a concert.

Learn to sing the early American shape-note harmony of the venerable Sacred Harp tunebook in a workshop taught by acclaimed singing masters Matt and Erica Hinton. This singing workshop, addressed to absolute beginners and more experienced singers alike, begins with the basics of the human voice and group singing, and includes an introduction to reading shape-note music, important aspects of traditional practice and lots of full-on singing. No prior experience required.

The Sacred Harp, first published in 1844 in Georgia, is at the heart of one of America’s most vital, homegrown musical practices. Within its pages, “Amazing Grace” and “Wayfaring Stranger” meet the rafter-rattling “fuging tunes” of early New England, all harmonized for three and four-part social singing, and written in a unique and practical notation system.

The Sacred Harp is an, often, “missing link” in American old-time and early gospel music, and a revelation to Americana enthusiasts from banjo players and ballad singers to fans of early country and folk harmony.
Schedule of Events

Friday, January 13
7:30pm Screening of the documentary Awake My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp, followed by Q & A with directors Matt and Erica Hinton

Saturday, January 14
10:00am to 12:30pm Singing School with Matt and Erica Hinton
12:30pm Dinner on the Grounds (Potluck lunch)
1:30pm to 4:00pm Singing
7:30pm Concert with Tim Eriksen and Peter Irvine at Main St. Landing

Singing will be from the 1991 Denson edition of The Sacred Harp. Songbooks will be available to borrow and purchase. All are welcome, no singing or musical experience necessary.

Friday events & Saturday singing school at Contois Auditorium, City Hall, 149 Church St, Burlington.

Saturday concert at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center, Black Box Theatre, 60 Lake Street, Burlington.
Housing is available with local singers on Friday and Saturday nights. Contact Anna Mays at anna(dot)mays(at) to request housing or for more details.

If you’re on Facebook, let us know you’re coming by indicating “going” on our Singing School Weekend event page and “like” the Sacred Harp Community of Vermont page to receive updates about singings in Vermont.
This event is supported in part by the Outreach Fund of the Country Dance and Song Society

Watch the documentary trailer:

Tim Eriksen Concert


“Widely regarded as the best traditional American ballad singer of his generation” — BBC Radio


“Eriksen connects the present and the ancient with an immediacy that will make your bones tremble” – Pulse of the Twin Cities



Tim Eriksen, PhD (Cordelia’s Dad, the film Cold Mountain), is acclaimed for transforming American tradition with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia. Ethnomusicologist, educator and musician, his students have ranged from inner-city kindergarteners to Nicole Kidman and Jude Law.


Eriksen combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexto – a twelve-string Mexican acoustic bass – creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound that ranges from the bare bones of solo unaccompanied singing on his album Soul of the January Hills (Appleseed 2010) through the stripped-down voice and bajo sexto Christmas album Star in the East (timeriksenmusic 2012) to the lush, multi-layered arrangements on Josh Billings’s Voyage, an upcoming album of northern roots music.


The former frontman of the prophetic groups Cordelia’s Dad (folk-noise), Northampton Harmony (shapenotequartet) and Zabe i Babe (Bosnian folk and pop), Tim Eriksen is the only musician to have shared the stage with both Kurt Cobain and Doc Watson, and his media appearances have ranged from Prairie Home Companion to the Academy Awards. Having graduated from early shows at punk mecca CBGB, Tim’s more recent performances have included his Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in Evan Chambers’ symphonic work “The Old Burying Ground” and two week-long stints at the Blue Note Jazz Club with Omar Sosa. In the studio, he has worked with producers including Joe Boyd, T-Bone Burnett and Steve Albini.


While Eriksen’s curiosity and passion have led him on many musical journeys besides American roots – from punk rock and shape-note gospel through South Indian classical music and Bosnian pop to world jazz and contemporary symphonic music – all his explorations are linked by the qualities of intensity, directness, and authority which combine in a music that captures a truth about human experience and expresses it without apology.


TEACHING AND SCHOLARSHIP: Tim Eriksen’s work as an ethnomusicologist and teacher has included extensive research on shape-note music in New England and the venerable Sacred Harp four-part harmony tradition. He is a founder of what is currently the world’s largest Sacred Harp singing convention, in Northampton, MA. In the words of Paste Magazine editor Josh Jackson, “no one has done more to help revive Sacred Harp singing among a younger generation.” Eriksen has taught college courses including American Balladry, Global Sounds, Film Music from Hollywood to Bollywood, American Music, and Songwriting at Dartmouth College, Amherst College, Smith College, The University of Minnesota, Hampshire College and Wesleyan University. In addition, he has taught hundreds of hour- to week-long workshops and seminars in shape-note harmony singing, American music history, ballad singing and instrumental accompaniment at festivals, universities, museums and arts centers, including the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University, the Society for Ethnomusicology Convention, Colours of Ostrava Festival (Czech Republic), and Camp Fasola (Anniston, AL). His students have ranged wp-admin/post.php?post=848&action=editfrom a group of kindergarteners at an inner city school in Portland, Oregon to Nicole Kidman, Elvis Costello, Sting and a group of fifty Romanian extras in the film Cold Mountain and the senior citizen members of the now legendary Young at Heart Chorus.

Preview YouTube video “Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp” Movie Trailer

overtone singing after a shape-note singing school

Chelsea and I were at a shape-note singing school hosted by the Summit School in Montpelier today.

Joan White had a question for the teacher, Tim Eriksen, for pointers on singing as amazingly as he does.

In response, Tim had us try out singing overtone singing.


I think the idea was that with our trying overtone singing we would take some more time to listen to how we sing, giving us more information to work with as we create the sounds we want to sing with as we enjoy singing from The Sacred Harp.

I’ve had a long and exhausting week, and when Chelsea and I were enjoying our efforts in overtone singing on our ride home we started to laugh. It is so good to laugh.

Thank you Chelsea, and thank you Tim Eriksen.

Thank you also to Mary Collins who made these events with Tim Eriksen happen this weekend.

derby line singing school

shape note 28Chelsea and Ian Smiley will give a shape-note singing school during the local singing of Derby Line on Sunday, February 24th.

During this brief learning session Chelsea and Ian will go over the basics of melodics and rythmics for shape-note singing with those gathered for the singing. Everyone will have an opportunity to practice what they have learned in the encouraging and supportive atmosphere of the singing. Each person planning to participate in the singing and the lessons is encouraged to have a couple of songs from The Sacred Harp in mind so that they will be prepared excercise the lessons they have learned.