Thursday, April 16, 2015

Anna Blackshear & Sacred Harp

Blackshear, Anna L. Cooper (Mrs. R. D.) (November 5, 1877—July 5, 1957) was the daughter of Wilson Marion Cooper and Mary S. Hayes. Anna married Randall David Blackshear (1861—1941) on June 20, 1897 in Coffee County, Alabama. They had a son, Gill Wyeth, born in 1898. In 1900 they were living in Oklahoma County in Oklahoma Territory. They returned to Alabama and appear there in the 1910 census.1 By 1916 they were in West Palm Beach, Florida and then Panama City in Bay County from the 1920 census until their deaths. After moving to Panama City, Anna Blackshear joined the First Baptist Church and was a member until her death. She served as Primary Department Sunday School Superintendent and as an officer of the Women's Missionary Union. Panama City newspaper accounts record her frequently teaching studies, presenting stories and giving book reviews to the WMU. She was active in the Bridge Club and other social events. Anna was a constituting member of the Dothan Harmony Club in October 1909, and also later served as its president. She was also a member and officer of the Dothan Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the 1910s. She wrote alto parts for many songs in the book.2 She wrote the bass, alto and treble for Farewell, Vain World (95a). Her husband, Dr. Blackshear, published the 1927 revision of the book. Though most of her work was on alto parts, she composed The Lord is My Shepherd (229) and dedicated it to her grandparents, G. W. and N. L. Hayes. This song was removed in 1992.3 Anna and her husband are buried in the Dothan City Cemetery, Dothan, Houston County, Alabama.

1. Reports of the 1905 Alabama Baptist State Convention indicate the Blackshears had returned at least by the fall of that year.
2. Over 20% of the total alto project, Sarah Kahre
3. Described as an anthem “of a mixed genre and might be classified as an elaborate fuging tune, though it has solos, duets, and expressive markings. It is modal and exudes the feeling of folk music consistent with Sacred Harp tradition.” –  "The Anthems of the Sacred Harp Tunesmiths," Wallace McKenzie in The Sonneck Society Newsletter, Vol XI, Fall 1985, p. 75

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