Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp is the first feature documentary about Sacred Harp singing, a haunting form of a cappella, shape note hymn singing with deep roots in the American south. Shape note singing has survived over 200 years tucked away from notice in the rural deep south, where in old country churches, singers break open The Sacred Harp, a 160 year old shape note hymnal which has preserved these fiercely beautiful songs which are some of the oldest in America. The film offers a glimpse into the lives of this 'Lost Tonal Tribe' whose history is a story of both rebellion and tradition. The filmmakers, Matt and Erica Hinton spent 7 years documenting this yet largely unknown art form.
The Hintons wanted to put together a soundtrack for their film that would provide an introduction to the songs of The Sacred Harp, and also they wanted to make the songs accessible for a new audience. They tapped an amazing list of artists to contribute to the project, including John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (who duets here with Rayna Gellert of Uncle Earl), Doc Watson, Elvis Perkins, Jim Lauderdale, Murry Hammond (of Old 97s), Danielson, Richard Buckner, The Innocence Mission, Rick Moody (author of Garden State and The Ice Storm), Woven Hand, Mac Powell (Third Day) and more.
"As a musician, it's almost impossible to sing Sacred Harp without wondering what the songs would sound like in another context. That curiosity, combined with my desire to make Sacred Harp more known to a culture which has largely ignored it, led to the creation of Help Me to Sing. At its core, I see it as a way of opening a door to a musical tradition that very many people are unfamiliar with. As far as I?m concerned, Help Me to Sing is the hook. Real Sacred Harp singing, as heard on the Awake My Soul soundtrack? well, that?s the fish. It just so happens that in this case, even the bait wound up being extraordinary..."
The Original Soundtrack of Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp, the critically acclaimed documentary as seen on PBS stations and featured on NPR, in TIME magazine, Pitchfork, The Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal, The Oregonian, etc. The soundtrack includes traditional Sacred Harp singing, as recorded in rural Georgia and Alabama.
Help Me to Sing: Songs of the Sacred Harp performed by various artists. This is the first ever collection of popular music adaptations of Sacred Harp songs. Help Me to Sing includes 19 never before heard tracks which were specifically comissioned for this CD by the co-director of Awake, My Soul, Matt Hinton.