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Sacred Harp singing in the Okefenokee dates to the mid-1800s, but, remarkably, local singers rarely sang with outsiders until the 1990s.
Two important sound recordings from Florida Folk Festivals (19) serve as sonic benchmarks and as points of analytic departure for understanding the recent hybridization of Hoboken-style singing.
"Hoboken Style: Meaning and Change in Okefenokee Sacred Harp Singing" was selected for the 2009 Southern Spaces series "Documentary Expression and the American South," a collection of innovative, interdisciplinary scholarship about documentary work and original documentary projects that engage with regions and places in the US South.
On May 4, 1958, singing school teacher Silas Lee, from Hoboken, Brantley County, Georgia, took a small group of Sacred Harp singers to the Florida Folk Festival (FFF) stage.
Hoboken singers rarely sang with or for outsiders again for nearly fifty years.
Instead, this singing community became more insular and tied to Primitive Baptist beliefs, especially those of the Crawfordites, the most conservative of local subsects who take their name from nineteenth-century south Georgia elder, Ruben Crawford.
The singers had traveled from the Okefenokee region of southeast Georgia and northeast Florida to the town of White Springs.They sang three songs from the , to polite applause.1 This was the first of two late-1950s appearances at the festival by the Hoboken group and the only one recorded.