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Sweet Is the Day: A Sacred Harp Family Portrait

Film by Jim Carnes
Produced by Erin Kellen
Cinematographer: Jonathan Hamilton, Tom Davenport, Alan Lomax, David Murphree, Bill Windom
Sound: Keith Willard, Anne Kimzey
Editing: Robert Landau, Chris Speck
Copyright: 2001, The Alabama Folklife Association
59 minutes, Color
Original format: 8mm: Hi8 Video, 2001
More Film Facts
Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to Jim Carnes or to the distributor, The Alabama Folklife Association.


Preview one minute trailer - Comment on film


Sweet Is the Day: A Sacred Harp Family Portrait tells the story of the Woottens, one of the key singing families who have helped Sacred Harp music survive and flourish for more than 150 years. Producer/Folklorist Erin Kellen and Director Jim Carnes intertwine scenes of family gatherings, singing conventions, and farm life in the Sand Mountain region of northeast Alabama with family recollections and more than a dozen songs from the revered shape-note tradition. The video explores how Sacred Harp singing is about more than just music - it is a life-shaping force, reflected by tradition, deep spiritual belief, and the community that embraces it.

Sweet Is the Day is eloquent testimony to a remarkable extended family and their love for a musical tradition. By focusing on this love, and not just on the singing itself, [Producer Erin] Kellen and [Director Jim] Carnes have shown that Sacred Harp singing is a lot more than just old songs and a unique notation.


--- Duncan Vinson, Tributaries: Journal of the Alabama Folklife Association

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