New Harmonies: Roots of American Music Coming Very Soon

New Harmonies is almost here -- and the excitement is growing day by day! 

New Harmonies is a traveling exhibit created by the Smithsonian Institution that will be on display at the Beaufort Branch Library at 311 Scott Street from December 17, 2011 through February 4, 2012.

New Harmonies celebrates American music: blues, country western, folk, and gospel music. Eight kiosks display instruments as varied as fiddles and banjos, accordions and drums, vintage sheet music, and program bills. A listening station provides an immediate opportunity to experience the music firsthand. In addition to the exhibit, the Beaufort Branch Library has developed and coordinated programming and activities to complement the exhibit—lectures, films, and performances.

There's even a panel with the world famous, often reproduced "The Old Plantation" by amateur watercolorist John Rose of Broad River, Beaufort District featured in the exhibit.

The BDC Research Room display will rotate from "The Civil War in Beaufort District" to "Musical Resources in the BDC" during mid-December. Drop by to see it. (More details forthcoming).

The Beaufort District Collection is a recognized contributor to the New Harmonies project.

Among the array of program offerings, here are the ones closest to the BDC's scope and mission:

Fri. Dec. 2nd Photography Club of Beaufort exhibit opening reception 5 to 7 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Gallery at 311 Scott Street

The Photography Club of Beaufort presents its annual photography exhibit: “Celebration of American Music” a collection of photos submitted by members of the Photography Club of Beaufort. To coincide with New Harmonies, their theme is “roots music”. Visit the 2nd floor gallery (just outside the BDC's Research Room entrance) from Dec 2nd through January 31st to view the photographs. All are invited to attend the grand opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, December 2nd. The gallery will be open 9 am until 5 pm most weekdays.

Saturday, December 17th New Harmonies Grand Opening 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Beaufort Branch Library, 311 Scott Street 

Enjoy an afternoon of live music and explore the New Harmonies Exhibit. The afternoon will feature local performers Vic Varner, Beek Webb, Kirk Demspey, Queen Quet, and Crosstuned. Ribbon cutting begins at 2 PM at the Beaufort Branch Library (311 Scott Street) and admission is free.

Sunday, December 18th The Nativity Scene 6:30 p.m. at Frissell House at Penn Center, St. Helena Island

A re-enactment of the Christmas story with musical renditions of Old English carols sung by members of local choirs. This traditional holiday performance is based on the original "Mystery Play" that was performed at Penn School in the early 1950's.

Wednesday, December 20th Dancin’ Wid We: Music & Dance of the Gullah/Geechee 6 p.m. at Beaufort Branch Library

Come and join the anniversary celebration of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition which is the premiere organization for the advocacy of Gullah/Geechee rights and cultural continuation. The Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition's homebase is St. Helena Island, SC and it was founded by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation who is a native of St. Helena and has family roots stemming also to Polowana and Dataw. Queen Quet will lead an interactive evening in music and dance that celebrates the harmonies that Gullah/Geechees have brought to and sustained in North America as a part of this Smithsonian exhibition.

Wednesday, January 4th Lunch & Listen “Sea Island Spirituals” featuring the Jones Family Noon to 1 p.m. at Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort Campus

Listen to the Jones Family perform authentic renditions of spirituals originating in the Sea Island. Participants are encouraged to bring their lunch to eat in the Student Center prior to the performance. 

Sunday January 15th Community Sing 6:30 p.m. at Frissell House atPenn Center, St. Helena Island

Local gospel choirs will sing traditional spirituals in a community sing-along.

Tuesday, January 17th Lecture: “African American Contributions to Music” by Dan Huff 1- 3 p.m. at University of South Carolina Beaufort, Auditorium, 801 Carteret Street

Dan Huff, musician, and music historian, will offer a presentation on the gospel, jazz, and blues roots of our African American culture which has contributed to our rich American musical heritage. Dan has played in numerous symphonies and orchestras in major cities, and has played his brass instruments for many. He is an accomplished musician and presenter for OLLI on Gullah history and music.

Wednesday, February 2nd Lunch & Listen: Livin' Music: A Gullah/Geechee Journey of Harmony featuring Queen Quet Noon to 1 p.m. at Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort Campus

Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine is a published author, computer scientist, lecturer, mathematician, historian, columnist, preservationist, film consultant, and "The Art-ivist." She is the founder of the premiere advocacy organization for the continuation of Gullah/Geechee culture, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition. Queen Quet has not only provided “histo-musical presentations” throughout the world, but was also the first Gullah/Geechee person to speak on behalf of her people before the United Nations in Genevé, Switzerland. Participants are encouraged to bring their lunch to eat in the Student Center prior to the performance.

Saturday, February 4th Closing Celebration with Aunt Pearlie Sue 2 p.m. at Beaufort Branch Library

Anita Singleton-Prather “Aunt Pearlie Sue” delights audiences with Gullah-flavored folktales, songs, skits and history passed down to her.

For the complete schedule of New Harmonies events click here. For questions regarding New Harmonies events, please contact Amanda Brewer, at or (843) 255-6458. 

We hope to see you at one (or more) of these very special opportunities to celebrate the "Roots of American Music" in concert with the Beaufort County Library system!

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.