Northlanders Keep 300 Year Old Music Style Alive

By KBJR News 1

May 5, 2013 Updated May 5, 2013 at 10:48 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)
These folks are singing in the sacred harp style.
The songs always begin by singing the names of the notes before the lyrics begin.
The style began in 18th century England as country parish singing.

"It started out as a very religious sacred music and it is beautiful sacred music but it is also great fun to sing." said Leslie Williamson White.

Sacred Harp music is participatory, not passive.
It's not done in church or in concert but among friends for the music's sake.

"It's lively, touching and it has so many interesting elements." said Bonnie Ambrosi.

"Some of the interesting elements include the facts that Sacred Harp music is always sung in a square and it's always sung a cappella with no studio trickery.
Singer Bonnie Ambrosi feels the musical style is so much fun to sing that she investigated the health benefits of getting together and singing with a group." said reporter Dave Anderson.

"It does things like boost your immunity and it produces endorphins so you just feel happy." said Ambrosi.

From England, the Sacred Harp style moved to the southern United States in the mid 1700's.
It took until the 1980's to migrate to the rest of the U.S.
Now, Sacred Harp singing groups have sprung up in Ireland, Holland, Germany and Poland.
This Duluth group has been going for three years.

"It's not too hard to get started. Then, I think you'll spend the rest of your life fine tuning it." said Ambrosi.

In Duluth, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.

The Duluth area singers always welcome new vocalists.
They get together the first Sunday of the month at two o'clock.
They gather at the Duluth–Superior Friends Meeting House on East First Street.