For the best Sacred Harp has to offer, go to an all-day singing or convention.
While local singings usually attract 8-20 singers who sing for 2-3 hours, an all-day singing will attract 40-125 singers who sing for 5-6 hours. A “convention” usually lasts two days, and may attract more than 200 singers. The sheer intensity of the singing can be mind-blowing, and has caused more than one singer to declare “I must do this” for the rest of my life.
A local singing is a great place to learn how to sing in the tradition. In the Palo Alto local singing, we might work through a more complex or difficult song, singers can ask for part reviews, everyone a chance to work on leading, etc.
But at an all-day singing or convention, we just sing — for hours! We might sing close a hundred songs in a day. With plenty of experienced singers to carry each section, new singers find that going to an all-day singing takes you to the next level in your singing.
Dinner-on-the-grounds is one of the best parts of an all-day singing. We break for lunch at about noon, and singers bring their best potluck dishes to share. Here in Northern California, you’ll find a wide range of offerings, from traditional dishes that you’d find at a Southern singing, to Northern California specialties, to vegan extravaganzas.
Video from Bay Area all-day singings and conventions
Video from the 2016 Palo Alto All-Day Singing
The Palo Alto All-Day Singing usually attracts about 50 singers, mostly from Northern California. Above, Mark leads “Zion.”
Video from the Golden Gate All-day Singing
The Golden Gate singing usually attracts well over a hundred singers, including a number of out-of-town singers. Above, James and Shani lead 312b “Restoration” at the 2012 Golden Gate.
Video from the All-California Sacred Harp Convention
The All-California Convention, or “All-Cal,” rotates between San Diego (2016), Los Angeles (2017), and the Bay Area (2018). There can be upwards of 200 singers who come from far and near, including some of the best Sacred Harp singers alive today. Above, Ian leads 38b “Windham” at the 2012 All-Cal, as captured by professional videographer and Sacred Harp singer Jeremy Knight.