'Awake My Soul' Sheds Light On Sacred Harp Singing

One of the oldest forms of American music will finally get its due in a documentary to be released this fall. Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp chronicles the tradition of shape note singing, which stretches over two centuries but has largely been hidden away in the pockets of the deep South.

Taking its name from the Sacred Harp hymnal, which has preserved the art for over 160 years, the documentary tracks both the history of shape note singing as well as the lives of the ‘Lost Tonal Tribe,’ the people who have kept it alive over the centuries.

The inclusion of shape note singing in recent films Cold Mountain and Gangs Of New York may have familiarized some audiences with the art form, but filmmakers Matt and Erica Hinton—sacred harp singers themselves—have been at work on this project for upwards of seven years. The Atlanta, Georgia-based couple will see Awake, My Soul debut on Georgia Public Broadcasting in November 2006. More information about the film is available at awakemysoul.com.