Thursday, July 16, 2009


Into the 1980s we had three East Texas Sacred Harp singers who were the same age, born in the same month and year (two on the same day) and all lived into their nineties -- B. A. Harry (1891-1984), Grady McLeod (1891-1988) and David Waldrop (1891-1985).

I remember Dr. Harry for his magnifying glass and his disinterest in singing the notes. He had a philosophy that once you had learned to sing the notes on a song that you didn't need to keep singing them every time you led that song. This seemed strange to me, but later I would learn that an area of East Texas singers had that in their background training and some other older singers I don't remember thought the same way. When Dr. Harry led, his idea often caused someone to ask (in good humor, I think) whether we would be singing the notes. Donald Ross reminded me that though Dr. Harry didn't sing the notes, he did believe in singing all the words of any song he led and that his favorite was "Oh Sing to Me of Heaven".

To me as a child, Grady McLeod is someone who stood out in the crowd -- even though he wasn't a very big man. I guess because he sat in the treble, sang high with red face and often keyed the songs. An exceptionally likable fellow. If you knew him, one of his songs is probably forever etched in your mind -- five thuh-ty two.

"Uncle" David Waldrop isn't in my childhood memory so much like Mr. McLeod. But as an adult I came to think of him as one of the "neatest" people I knew. He knew a lot about a lot of subjects and had very interesting things to tell me. With the knowledge I have now, I wish I could go back and ask him about Sacred Harp in our area in his youth. The song I most often associate with him in 58, "Pisgah". I also think of him when I hear 290 "Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed (Victoria)", and 275b "Roll On".

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