Learn the Blue Ridge style of shaped-note singing at the Quay Smathers Memorial Singing School
Quay Smathers (1913-1997), singing master and recipient of the prestigious North Carolina Folk Heritage Award, tirelessly taught shaped-note singing from Georgia to Michigan and points in between. Today, those who learned under Quay remember his quick wit, his clear voice, and his strong convictions about saving a musical tradition passed down from his ancestors in Western North Carolina.
The Quay Smathers Memorial Singing School is devoted to carrying on his work of raising up shaped-note singers who desire to sing in the traditional style originally heard in the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The book of choice is The Christian Harmony by William Walker and much attention is given to tempo, phrasing, and oral traditions.
Held in the historic Shook-Smathers House, the singing school is taught by leaders in the Blue Ridge style of shaped-note singing, including Quay's daughters June Smathers-Jolley and Elizabeth Smathers-Shaw, and son-in-law Lynn Shaw. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the tradition, a proficiency in singing shaped-notes as originally sung in the Southern Appalachians, and resources to continue their own personal exploration of the practice.
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The founders of the QSMSS include Quay's daughters, Elizabeth Smathers-Shaw and June Smathers-Jolley, along with their husbands, Lynn Shaw and Zeb Jolley, who also learned to sing from Quay. Liz has taught Christian Harmony workshops around the country and June assumed the directorship of the historic Old Folks Day Christian Harmony singing at Morning Star United Methodist Church in Canton, NC, upon Quay's death in 1997. Selected for their experience and dedication to preserving the Blue Ridge style of shaped-note singing, all of our singing masters bring not only their expertise, but their passion for safekeeping this important tradition for future generations.
Lynn Shaw, Elizabeth Smathers-Shaw, Zeb Jolley, and June Smathers-Jolley Folk Musicians, Christian Harmony Singers and Founders of the QSMSS.
Maggie Lauterer Retired Pastor and Folk Musician
Laura Boosinger Folk Musician and Executive Director of Madison County Arts Council.
Diane Eskenasy Director of the historic Etowah, NC Christian Harmony singings.
Zack Allen Publisher, Folk Heritage Books; Author and Folk Musician
Larry Beveridge Retired High School Teacher, Composer and Bass Singer
The following descendants of
Mary Agner Smathers,
Quay's great-great grandmother, are supporters of the Quay Smathers Memorial Singing School. Many thanks for their generosity and encouragement!
Mike and Cindy Smathers in memory of
Loranzo and Underwood Smathers
Patty Brookshire Singleton in memory of
Crystal Smathers Medford
Lionel and Linda Bryson in memory of
Vernette Smathers Muse
Jacque Sue Brookshire in memory of
Quay Smathers & Crystal Smathers Medford
Cynthia Smathers White in memory of
Quay and Sue Smathers