The Shenandoah Harmony Publishing Company and the co-authors of The Shenandoah Harmony are committed to building a welcoming and affirming shape note singing community. Currently, there is a much needed discussion about racial and gender inclusion in singing and we feel compelled to address this.     

  1. We envision a healthy and joyous shape note community that prioritizes the respect, care, and dignity of all singers. 
  1. Our commitment calls for us to acknowledge that the practices and institutions that we hold dear are not immune to overt or subtle forms of aggression and exclusion.
  1. We want to do the work to remediate behaviors and actions that cause harm or that make people feel unwelcome. 
  1. We want to make a place for everyone at the table. This includes welcoming all people, regardless of race, sex, gender, socio-economic status, ability, or age.
  1. Furthermore, the norms of oppressive systems that have historically influenced our culture, and therefore shape note singing, such as racial discrimination and male-dominated leadership, must not have a place in our practice.
  1. Specifically, we strive to integrate the positive parts of the shape note singing tradition, and to examine the rituals and mythologies that do not support these goals of diversity and inclusiveness. We ask that all members of our community join to reflect and act on changing parts of the tradition to enhance the practice. 
  1. We therefore commit, as a group and as individuals, to listen to and respect the voices and experiences of singers who are black, brown, female-identifying, trans, non-conforming and others who have been placed outside the narrative; to encourage conversation; to become aware of tendencies toward defensiveness; and to on-going examination of our own behaviors and beliefs.
  1. One concrete step that can be immediately implemented is to have a “safety/information committee” at each singing so that singers know who to talk to if they have suggestions or comments, or if they experience or observe unwelcoming or harmful behavior.
  1. The authors welcome suggestions, comments, or questions:

Myles Louis Dakan, John W. del Re, Leyland W. del Re, Rachel Wells Hall

Daniel L. Hunter, Kelly Macklin, Nora Miller

“If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, ‘behold we knew it not;’ Doth not God that pondereth thy heart consider it? Doth not God that keepeth thy soul know it?” Proverbs 24:11-12.