Paper & Cotton

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McIntosh County Shouters: Gullah-Geechee Ring Shout

The McIntosh County Shouters is a ten-member Gullah-Geechee group that began performing professionally in 1980. They have educated and entertained audiences around the United States with the “ring shout,” a compelling fusion of counterclockwise dance-like movement, call-and-response singing, and percussion consisting of hand claps and a stick beating the rhythm on a wooden floor.

African in its origins, the ring shout affirms oneness with the Spirit and ancestors as well as community cohesiveness. The ring shout was first described in detail during the Civil War by outside observers in coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. Its practice continued well into the 20th Century, even as its influence was resounding in later forms like spiritual, jubilee, gospel and jazz. By the late 20th century, the ring shout itself was presumed to have died out until its rediscovery in McIntosh County in 1980; thus, the beginning of the McIntosh County Shouters.

The group was awarded the NEA National Heritage Fellowship in 1993, and were selected as Producers of Distinction and Founding Members of the “Georgia Made Georgia Grown Program,” in 2009. Their performances include the National Black Arts Festival, of Smithsonian Folklife Festival, World Music Institute, and Sound Legacies at Emory University. The group has been featured in magazines and documentaries, including HBO’s Unchained Memories.

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