Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

Archive for the ‘Artist Interview’ Category

This is a transcript of a segment from the American Master’s Documentary AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE: A HISTORY, in which Ballet Historian Jennifer Homans talks about the origins of ballet and the art form is has become.  Please forgive typos. This segment starts at about 12 minutes from the beginning of the documentary:

Ballet grew out of the European Courts of the 17th c.  Before dance was an art form, it was really an etiquette.  It grew out of the social life of the people of the court.  How do you move when you’re in relation to the king?  How do you offer a hand?  How do you pass down the street?  How to you live in your skin in daily life?  It starts to become codified in a way.  

Really where this takes hold the strongest is in the court of Louise the XIV.  And this is a court that is rule bound in the extreme.  Because rules are a form of power.  And that’s how Louis ordered his court and established his authority. 

Think about “The Reverence.”  You bend your knee and you bow.  What is that? That’s a sign of humility to someone of a higher authority than you.  That’s also a step in ballet.  It’s also a bending of the knees, a plie.  It’s a preparation to jump, but it’s also a humility.

And Louis himself was a terrific performer.  He would be, he was king, right?  Don’t forget, this is hte moment when MEN were the great dancers.  This is before the ballerinas and so ballet was created in order to express masculinity, power, strength, physical precision, control.  Because you don’t want to lose control if you are a nobleman and especially if you are a king.

The key thing that got codified in Louis’s court was the five positions.The basic ABCs or building blocks of the art form itself.  They are the same five positions that dancers use today.  And they really designed these positions as the measure of man.  so that there’s a geometric and mathematical precision to the proportionality of the body related to the positions themselves.

All of this comes out of the European Renaissance and it’s the idea that we’re going to go back to antiquity, back to a sort of idealized version, and we’re going to create an art form that expresses the geometric beauty and proportionality of the human body.  So, it’s not just a set of rules.  It’s Leonardo.  Its’ Michelangelo.  It’s, “how do you measure man?”  How can you mix these art forms: poetry, music, dance, into a single art form that’s going to somehow capture what it means to be human?  And what’s interesting about all of this is that although it developed in this courtly and aristocratic context, ti’s actually a radical idea.  Because anybody can do it.

If you’re willing to stand at the bar every day in order to stabilize yourself, in order to practice these steps and positions (and most couriers were), you, too, can become more noble.  And not just more noble ina social class, but as a person.  A more noble person.  Someone who has raised him or herself UP toward the angels and God.  You can leave some of your bestiality behind and transcend UP the great chain of being, IF you can control your physical and emotional and spiritual being.

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This passage caught me.  It caught me because I take ART seriously.  I am an artist and I live in my art and appreciate as much of all others as possible.  And the reason I appreciate it all so much is because of the transcendence.  The thought that if one can practice and art and share it, then one can explore (and share that exploration with others) what it means to be human.  And, one can become more noble (and share that nobility).  One can leave behind some of the baser aspects of our humanity and participate in transcendence, rising up the great chain of being (and bringing others with us).  All by the practice and sharing of an art, where each art form is a practice (with the goal of mastery) of controlling (or harnessing, expressing, manipulating, creating) our physical, emotional, and spiritual begin.  Which all rolled together molds our true, creative selves, our ART.

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Related Posts

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INFO AND THINKING ABOUT SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/resources-for-inspiration-and-information/

I frequently think about my creative work.  What am I really doing?  Is my work with Sing Books anything “new” or in any way original?  Does my Sing Books work matter?

Having these questions on my mind, I was fascinated to find:
NPR’s TED Radio Hour segment “What Is Original?”
http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/321797073/what-is-original

This TED Hour segment included samples from the following longer talks:

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EVERYTHING IS A REMIX, a TED Talk by Kirby Ferguson:
http://www.npr.org/2014/06/27/322910178/is-everything-a-remix

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Why Would More Than 500 Artists Sample The Same Song?, a TED Talk by Mark Ronson
http://www.npr.org/2014/06/27/322721353/why-would-more-than-500-artists-sample-the-same-song

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Random notes and thoughts until I’m able to put my thoughts together with some clarity:

  • Everything is a remix:  Dylan’s songs, Guthrie’s songs
  • About 6m04s into the talk, Mark Ronson says, “…they heard something in that music that spoke to them that they instantly wanted to inject themselves into the narrative of that music.  They heard it and they wanted to be a part of it…”
  • About 6m10s into talk, Mark Ronson says, “In music, we take something we love and we build on it.”
  • This struck a chord with me.  This is what I want, to make myself part of the narrative of the music in Illustrated Songs, so that I become it’s voice.  I become part of that musical heritage when I sing it, share it, breathe my life into it, give it a voice, and pass it along.
  • SBWE, my intention, to:  Interpreting anew, bringing past to present, oral/music history, musicology, musical heritage, scop, gryo, passing it on, paying it forward…

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Relatd Posts

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THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND Adapted from WHEN THE WORLD’S ON FIRE

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/this-land-is-your-land-adapted-from-when-the-worlds-on-fire/

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WOODY GUTHRIE
The Singable Picture Books of Woody Guthrie
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/the-singable-picture-books-of-woody-guthrie/

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BOB DYLAN
The Singable Picture Books of Bob Dylan
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/the-singable-picture-books-of-bob-dylan/

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THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, AN ILLUSTRATED SONG

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/this-land-is-your-land-a-singable-picture-book-and-googles-singable-doodle-on-july-4-2012/

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Questioning Myself, “Am I Original” After Hearing TED Radio Hour “What Is Original?”
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/questioning-myself-am-i-original-after-hearing-ted-radio-hour-what-is-original/

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bunny rabbit in the sunlight endle babypants
Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight
Words by Kate Endle and Caspar Babypants
Music by Caspar Babypants (Chris Ballew)
Illustrations by Kate Endle

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my woodland wish endle babypants
My Woodland Wish
Words by Kate Endle and Caspar Babypants
Music by Caspar Babypants (Chris Ballew)
Illustrations by Kate Endle

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old manhattan has some farms cover
Old Manhattan Has Some Farms
Words by Susan Lendroth
Traditional Tune, Sing to the Tune of Old MacDonald
Includes a downloadable song from Caspar Babypants
Illustrated by Kate Endle

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Caspar Babypants website:
http://www.babypantsmusic.com/

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Kate Endle website:
http://www.kateendle.com/

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Related Posts

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KATE ENDLE AND CASPAR BABYPANTS
SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS OF KATE ENDLE AND CASPAR BABYPANTS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/the-singable-picture-books-of-kate-endle-and-caspar-babypants/

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CASPAR BABYPANTS  AND CASPAR BABYPANTS
SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS OF KATE ENDLE AND CASPAR BABYPANTS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/the-singable-picture-books-of-kate-endle-and-caspar-babypants

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USEFUL TUNES IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/useful-tunes-in-the-public-domain/

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EARTH’S BEAUTY AND BOUNTY, STEWARDSHIP AND BEING GREEN

Celebrate Earth’s beauty and bounty, being green, and environmental stewardship with this lovely list of Singable Picture Books:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/singable-picture-books-with-a-green-theme/

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GARDEN SING-ALONG
A list of songs to inspire us to look around us in a garden and enjoy, observe, appreciate and preserve the natural world around us

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/garden-sing-along-song-choices-for-singable-expeditions-at-tuckahoe-elementary-or-for-any-garden-sing-along/

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Old MacDonald in Singable Picture Books
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/%E2%80%9Cread-sing-play-abc-sing-along%E2%80%9D-a-singable-book-letter-p-tune-of-%E2%80%9Cold-macdonald-had-a-farm%E2%80%9D/

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Caspar Babypants Songs For Books Webpage:
http://babypantsmusic.com/songs-for-books

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Sing Books With Emily’s Top 10 Favorite Illustrated Songs of 2014 (and a few others, too)
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/sing-books-with-emilys-top-10-favorite-illustrated-songs-of-2014-and-a-few-others-too/

This weekend, I got to see the excellent American Masters documentary about August Wilson:
AUGUST WILSON: THE GROUND ON WHICH I STAND

An actress performed the following short monologue from August Wilson’s play MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM which I found to be informative, inspiring, and thought provoking:

Ma Rainey says:

White folks don’t understand about the blues. They hear it come out, but they don’t know how it got there. They don’t understand that’s life’s way of talking. You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ’cause that’s a way of understanding life… The blues help you get out of bed in the morning. You get up knowing you ain’t alone. There’s something else in the world. Something’s been added by that song. This be an empty world without the blues. I take that emptiness and try to fill it up with something.

I don’t deny that white folks generally cannot grasp the struggles of African Americans. There is undoubtedly a deep rooted, yet often invisible, racism that white people just cannot see or perceive which is experienced by and oppressive to African American people.

However, what she says (what August Wilson has written) about singing can ring true of anyone. Everyone’s life has struggles and those struggles can make us despair. My only disagreement with Ma Rainey here is that one doesn’t sing to feel better. Though this may be true for the reason for singing the blues, I find that singing DOES make one feel better. Much, much better. I find singing and the sharing of song to be transformation and transcendent. The act of singing (alone or with others) elevates the spirit and changes an ordinary moment (maybe full of sadness, frustration or despair) and changes it into something of beauty, joy, wonder. The music fills up the empty space with glory. If I have any understanding of heaven, this is one of the first places I look to find it.

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Related Posts

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INFO AND THINKING ABOUT SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/resources-for-inspiration-and-information/

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BLUES, THE BLUES
The Blues in Illustrated and Otherwise Musically Related Picture Books (yet another list inspired by Nikki)
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/the-blues-in-illustrated-and-otherwise-musically-related-picture-books-yet-another-list-inspired-by-nikki/

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August Wilson and a Monologue He Gives to Ma Rainey
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/august-wilson-and-a-monologue-he-gives-to-ma-rainey/

In December 2013, I had the wonderful pleasure to perform in Jill Leger’s musical revue called Christmas Again?!

Just a few weeks ago, she got a video from someone who attended one of the performances.  She writes marvelous, character and story driven songs.  Every song is a stand-alone 3 act play.

This is an addendum the post I wrote about the show:
Christmas Again?! A Holiday Delight!
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/christmas-again-a-holiday-delight/

If you’re looking for a song to sing that will show off your vocal or acting chops, check out the Jill Leger songbook.  You can see a revue’s worth of her songs in the video below:

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December 2013

Jill Leger’s Musical Review titled Christmas Again?!

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/christmas-again-a-holiday-delight/

Link to view video of the show:
https://vimeo.com/90691529
This video requires password:  Leger

Music and Lyrics by Jill Leger
Piano Accompaniment played Amy Conley

I got to sing 3 solos, group numbers and duets.  My favorites are I MAKE CHRISTMAS HAPPEN and MEADOWBROOK SPRINGS, two of the marvelous songs by Jill Leger, one funny, one to swell your heart:

  • CHRISTMAS AGAIN? (opening group number, seen at the very beginning)
  • I WANT (solo, the second number of the show)
  • I MAKE CHRISTMAS HAPPEN (solo, song starts at 30 minutes and 20 seconds into the video)
  • RETIRED AT LAST (duet, song starts at 37 minutes, 40 seconds into the video)
  • MEADOWBROOK SPRINGS (solo, starts at 50 minutes, 11 seconds into the video)
  • MY CHRISTMAS PUDDING (duet, begins right after MEADOWBROOK SPRINGS)

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Related Posts

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EMILY’S UPCOMING (AND PAST) PERFORMANCES:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/emilys-upcoming-performances/

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CHRISTMAS AGAIN!? This Weekend. Two Performances at Black Fox Lounge, DC
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/christmas-again-this-weekend-two-performances-at-black-fox-lounge-dc/

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CHRISTMAS AGAIN!? FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/events/415498988572801/

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CHRISTMAS AGAIN?!  Again, this time in a video.
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/christmas-again-again-this-time-in-a-video/

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VIDEO
For videos featuring “Sing Books with Emily” and Emily’s cabaret performances, visit:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/video-series/

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Something Martha Graham Said and My Friend Jill
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/something-martha-graham-said-and-my-friend-jill/

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The Sparrow, a Singable Book, an Interview and a Karaoke Sing-Along by Jill Léger (and an Exploration of Collective Nouns)
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/the-sparrow-a-singable-book-an-interview-and-a-karaoke-sing-along-by-jill-leger/

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CHRISTMAS AGAIN?!  Again, this time in a video.
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/christmas-again-again-this-time-in-a-video/

This post is an addendum to the post
TAKE ME HOME COUNTRY ROADS, AN ILLUSTRATED SONG
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/take-me-home-country-roads-a-singable-picture-book/

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I got to sing TAKE ME HOME COUNTRY ROADS (probably the number one favorite song in the Sing Books Repertoire) as one of my songs at the HEARTS AND DARTS Valentine Concert on Friday, 2/6/2015 at Maggie’s Cabaret.

It was a wonderful experience when the audience sang along with lots of heart and gusto. It is amazing how that song engages the hearts of so many.  One nice lady told me afterward that her daughter was born in Japan and sang that song when she was a little girl there.  She could not believe when she moved to the United States that people here sang that song in English!  So it seems that people all over the world are touched by the song and it’s expression of love for the roads that lead us home.

In addition, I sang SHE’S ALWAYS A WOMAN (words and music by Billy Joel) in honor of my mother CAROLE JEAN GEISLER EVERSON, who passed away in February of 2001.  It is a great honor to me to sing this song for her, as she was, and will always be, the paradigm and essence of a woman to me.

And I wore her 1950’s, red, bejeweled, cat eyes glasses, too.  Here I am before the performance with my friend and fellow performer Andrew Harmon, picture taken by mutual friend Steve Spar:
2015 02 06 eleg and andrew harmon maggie's by steve spar

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take me home country roads
Take Me Home, Country Roads

Words and Music by John Denver, Taffy Nivert and Bill Danoff
Words Adapted by Christopher Canyon
Illustrated by Christopher Canyon
ISBN 978-1584690726

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Related Posts

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HEARTS AND DARTS at Maggie’s Cabaret, Friday, February 6, 1015
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/hearts-and-darts-at-maggies-cabaret-friday-february-6-1015/

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JOHN DENVER
The Singable Picture Books of John Denver
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/the-singable-picture-books-of-john-denver/

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Country Roads at Maggie’s Cabaret on 2/6/2015
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/country-roads-at-maggies-cabaret-on-262015/

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TAKE ME HOME COUNTRY ROADS, AN ILLUSTRATED SONG
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/take-me-home-country-roads-a-singable-picture-book/

I’ve run across illustrations for Shakers Songs and decided to collect them in a list.  The songs are so filled with love and there is much to be gained from knowing them.

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Shaker Boy
Traditional Hymns, Words and Music
Text by Mary Lyn Ray
Illustrated by Jeanette Winter

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shaker songs
Shaker Songs (a celebration of peace, harmony, and simplicity)
Compiled and Edited by Christian Goodwillie (with contributions from Joel Cohen)
Illustrations from Various Artists
Accompanied by CD with Performances by the Boston Camerata

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Simple Gifts ELEG for SBWE
Simple Gifts Song Sheet with Guitar Chords for SBWE
Words and Music by Elder Joseph Brackett
Guitar Chords and Arrangement by ELEG for SBWE
To view or print this song sheet, click here:
Simple Gifts ELEG for SBWE

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Simple Gifts (the shaker song)
Words and Music by Elder Joseph Bracket
Illustrated with Photographs by Solomon M. Skolnick

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Simple Gifts (The Shaker Hymn)

Words and Music by Elder Joseph Brackett
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
(You might also enjoy a post about “Simple Gifts at the White House“:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/simple-gifts-at-the-white-house/
And other Related Posts as well.)
This song seems simple, but it is rich with profound ideas.  And you can sing it fast and you can sing it slow.  You can sing it in a round and you can sing it solo.  You can sing it a-capella or you with another fella…this song is simply a wonderful thing…

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A page for the Sing Books with Emily SINGABLE ADVENT CALENDARSIMPLE GIFTS
SBWE Advent Calendar simple gifts
Simple Gifts (The Shaker Hymn)
Words and Music by Elder Joseph Brackett
To view or print the SBWE Singable Advent Calendar sheet for “Simple Gifts,” click here:
SBWE Advent Calendar simple gifts

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Reading in the NY Times Sunday Art section May 2014, I found an article about the Wooster Group’s theatrical setting of the 1977 album EARLY SHAKER SPIRITUALS:

early shaker spirituals
Early Shaker Spirituals
United Society of Shakers

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Hear a clip of “‘Tis the Gift to be Simple” from this album:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0010V5IP0/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk9

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NY Times Sunday, 5/25/2014 article about the project:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/theater/the-wooster-group-presents-early-shaker-spirituals.html?&_r=0

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Related Posts

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Simple Gifts, a Singable Picture Book:

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/simple-gifts-a-singable-picture-book/

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SING BOOKS WITH EMILY SINGABLE ADVENT CALENDAR
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/the-sing-books-with-emily-singable-advent-calendar/

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SIMPLE GIFTS, Continuing to Captivate and part of Wooster Group’s Staging of Shaker Spirituals
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/simple-gifts-continuing-to-captivate-and-part-of-wooster-groups-staging-of-shaker-spirituals/

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A Simple Gifts Song Sheet with Guitar Chords by ELEG for SBWE
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/a-simple-gifts-song-sheet-with-guitar-chords-by-eleg-for-sbwe/

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ILLUSTRATED SHAKER SONGS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/illustrated-shakers-songs/


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