The McIntosh County Shouters
The McIntosh County Shouters are the principal and perhaps the last, active practitioners of one of the most venerable of African-American song and movement traditions, the "shout," also known as the "ring shout." First written about by outsiders in 1845, its stylistic antecedents in African tradition are indisputable. The principals of call-and-response singing, dance movement, interlocking rhythms, and the style of group devotion embedded in the shout made it a main lifeline to the West African cultural legacy through times of slavery and into the 20th century.
The McIntosh County Shouters perform ring shouts and sing songs that Negro slaves were singing when they arrived by ship in Virginia in 1722. The songs are sung to many different melodies, their themes ranging from Biblical vignettes to Biblical themes translated to speak of worldly conditions such as those of slavery, to contemporary topics such as the scourge of drugs and the death of a fellow shouter.
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The McIntosh County Shouters first began performing outside their community around the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Briar Patch, in 1980 when they appeared at the Georgia Sea Island Festival, St. Simons Island, Georgia. Since then they have taken their deep African-American tradition to the National Black Arts Festival, the Festival of American Folk-life, the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; the World Music Institute, New York City, the 43rd National Folk Festival at Wolf Trap Farm in Virginia; Sapfest, Sapelo Island, Georgia, the Festival of Georgia Folk-life at Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Georgia; and Sound Legacies at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Many of their performances include visits to local schools in McIntosh County and neighboring counties to celebrate Black History.
The Shouters have also been featured in numerous documentaries, appeared in the production of "Roots to Resistance," a Story of the Underground Railroad, and were featured on "Across America with Larry Woods," CNN News. They have won numerous performance awards and recorded and released an album, "The McIntosh County Shouter's Slave Shout Songs from the Coast of Georgia," with Folkways Records, New York, NY. They were featured in the June 2000 issue of Southern Living magazine and have published a book, "Shout Because You're Free." The Shouters have also recently been featured on Oxygen TV's "Who Needs Hollywood" and continues to air annually in the month of February, on HBO's "Unchained Memories" and most recently were invited to perform at the opening of the National Museum of African American Culture and History in Washington, D.C.