The Smithsonian Institution and the Georgia Humanities Council have selected Darien, GA as one of 12 host sites for the New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music exhibit from July 21 to September 1, 2012. The Smithsonian describes the exhibit:

With New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music we listen to America’s music and hear the story of freedom. It’s the story of people in a New World, places they have left behind, and ideas they have brought with them. It is the story of people who were already here, but whose world is remade. The distinct cultural identities of all of these people are carried in song. Their music tracks the unique history of many peoples reshaping each other into one incredibly diverse and complex people—Americans.

Opening Day Ceremonies will launch the exhibit on July 21 in Downtown Darien. (From Brunswick and St. Simons Island, drive north on Highway 17. When you see the Friendly Express station, find a parking place).

10am: Opening Remarks

11am: McIntosh County Shouters.

The internationally renowned McIntosh County Shouters will perform the ring shout and tell stories.  This group is credited with preserving the ring shout in North America and are 1993 NEA National Heritage Fellows, 2008 NEA Master Artists, 2010 Georgia Governor’s Award in the Humanities recipients, and more. The McIntosh County Shouters have performed around the country for heads of state and for audiences of all ages.  They have performed in the Library of Congress and the John F. Kennedy Center.

12pm: Ashley Henry and Jordan Edwards, folk music

1pm: Special presentation to Frankie Quimby & Sea Island Singers

Honoring Frankie Quimby for continued support in preserving the Gullah Geechee heritage over the years as head of the Sea Island Singers. Afterward, the Sea Island Singers perform. The Sea Island Singers have performed for heads of state and all around the country.

Exhibit: Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit

Set up in the former Darien Hotel, this colorful exhibit will have information about roots music styles that will intrigue and interest:  zydeco, sacred song, blues, country, and bluegrass.

Within the exhibit, a room is dedicated to local roots music. Darien was chosen to host this traveling exhibit because of the strong African American ties to roots musical heritage.  Included in the exhibit are copies of handwritten notes that Lorenzo Dow Turner took during his trip to coastal Georgia while doing his groundbreaking research on the Gullah Geechee. Recordings from his trip will be available for guests to hear. There will be photographs of the original Sea Island Singers, McIntosh County Shouters, Friendly Stars, Gospel Messengers and more.

An impressive list of events will continue on over the six-week period, including: Speaker Series, Film Series, Musical Performances, and Children’s Activities.

  • Listen & Learn Speaker Series (Wednesdays, 11am, St. Cyprian’s Church)
  • Roots Music Film Series (Thursdays, 5:30pm, Ida J. Hilton Library)
  • Children’s Workshops (Saturdays, 10am-12pm)
  • Music Performances (Saturdays, 5:30pm)

For questions or additional information about this unique traveling Smithsonian exhibit, call 912-399-2466.

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