Painting of Lowcountry Group of Singers | History Of SC Slide Collection

Alfred Hutty painting of a Lowcountry group of singers. These men and women are quite likely the musicians for a "shout" ceremony, for they are singing and clapping their hands rhythmically. The "shout" is more than simply a song; it is also an important spiritual expression. Charlotte Forten, an African American woman from Philadelphia who went south to teach on the Sea Island plantations in 1862, described the combination of a song with repeated responses to a verse sung by a separate group of musicians, while a ring of shouters moved in a circle, keeping time to the music in a shuffling step. The bodies of the men and women in this painting seem to be swaying to the music they are creating, although they themselves are not actually in a ring dancing. Some "shouts" were characteristic of a particular African music form, in that the refrain was repeated, and followed a verse sung by a leader, a form described by musicologists as "call and response." From the Robert Coggins Collection, Marietta, Georgia.

Courtesy of the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.