Event description superimposed on green background. The left side of the image is the cover of both books, "Gullah Spirituals" and "Shout Because You're Free"

Join us for the second event in the spring On My Mind series, brought to you by the Georgia Center for the Book and Read SC - The South Carolina Center for the Book. We will be joined on Zoom by Eric Sean Crawford to discuss his book Gullah Spirituals: The Sound of Freedom and Protest in the South Carolina Sea Islands. He'll be in conversation with Art Rosenbaum, author of Shout Because You're Free. This event is free and open to the public, but you must register on Eventbrite to receive the link to the Zoom webinar.

In Gullah Spirituals musicologist Eric Crawford traces Gullah Geechee songs from their beginnings in West Africa to their height as songs for social change and Black identity in the twentieth century American South. While much has been done to study, preserve, and interpret Gullah culture in the lowcountry and sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia, some traditions like the shouting and rowing songs have been all but forgotten. This work, which focuses primarily on South Carolina's St. Helena Island, illuminates the remarkable history, survival, and influence of spirituals since the earliest recordings in the 1860s.

Eric Sean Crawford is the director of the Benedict College Honors Program and holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the Catholic University of America. He is the former director of the Charles W. Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies at Coastal Carolina University, served as musical consultant for the Amazon series Underground Railroad, and is featured in Henry Louis Gates's miniseries, The Black Church.


The ring shout is the oldest known African American performance tradition surviving on the North American continent. Performed for the purpose of religious worship, this fusion of dance, song, and percussion survives today in the Bolton Community of McIntosh County, Georgia. Incorporating oral history, first-person accounts, musical transcriptions, photographs, and drawings, Shout Because You're Free documents a group of performers known as the McIntosh County Shouters.

Derived from African practices, the ring shout combines call-and-response singing, the percussion of a stick or broom on a wood floor, and hand-clapping and foot-tapping. First described in depth by outside observers on the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia during the Civil War, the ring shout was presumed to have died out in active practice until 1980, when the shouters in the Bolton community first came to the public's attention.

Art Rosenbaum is a painter, draftsman, muralist, folk musician, and a professor of art at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia.

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