Hartsville’s Do Re Mi Gospel Music Academy is looking toward the next step in its mission of preserving the history of shape note gospel music by creating a museum at its facility.
Shape-note music is designed to make congregational and community signing easier, and dates back over two centuries in the United States. Today, Southern Baptist and Church of Christ congregations still commonly use shape-note songbooks in their worship services.
Do Re Mi, located on Cedar Bluff Road, has been in Hartsville since 2010 and is preparing to welcome a group of campers for its annual two-week camp, beginning June 2.
“Our charter is organized to education, promotion and preservation of shape-note music, so from the very beginning that was the vision we had,” said Key Dillard, the director of Do Re Mi. “We just haven’t had the opportunity till recently.”
Dillard’s efforts were aided when Trousdale County High School received a $3,500 grant from Middle Tennessee State University. Students in Dan Dickerson’s class built shelving that will be used in displaying artifacts when the museum comes into being.
Dr. Heather Dillard, an education professor at MTSU and Key’s daughter-in-law, was instrumental in helping TCHS obtain the grant.
“It’s a grant for a public service-oriented project,” Heather Dillard said. “The project they did was to make these cabinets for the museum at Do Re Mi.”
“It got us to moving,” Key Dillard said of the grant. “It called for cooperative community resources and the kids at TCHS built our cabinets and we’ll be utilizing them. We’re so very thankful for those kids at the high school.”
Dillard said Do Re Mi secured the building three years ago and has been working since then to locate items related to shape-note music that can be displayed.
“It’s going to be an ongoing process; the key to any museum is the artifacts that will be displayed,” he said.
Items already obtained by Do Re Mi include a 1939 scrapbook from the Macon County Ladies Quartet, of which Dillard’s mother was a member, and a teaching slate used by music instructors back in the day.
“We need people to dig deep in their attics and see what they can find,” Dillard said.
Anyone with items that might be of interest to the museum can email Dillard at [email protected] or can call 615-969-2708.
Do Re Mi’s gospel music camp will run from June 2-15 and will have nightly singings at 8 p.m. that are open to the public.
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]