From the feedback we have received from the near capacity crowd, everyone who attended Sunday’s performance of the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters were amazed at how powerful the performance was. Like most in attendance, I didn’t really know what to expect, however if Virginia Anne and Bill Waters are involved, you know it is going to be good.
Good is a bit of an understatement with this performance brought to Statesboro thanks to the generosity of the Jack N. & Adie D. Averitt Foundation with the coordination and support of the Bulloch County Historical Society.
The show was choreographed in a unique and educational way incorporating, song, poems, stories and dance. It was an emotional roller-coaster. One minute you are shouting with them in a sermon like performance, then you are overwhelmed by the struggles of their history. A history where they created their on language, songs and dance to help them survive the awful period of slavery.
History of Ring Shouters
The Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters have educated and entertained audiences around the United States with the “ring shout,” a compelling fusion of counterclockwise dance-like movement, call-and-response singing, and percussion consisting of hand claps and a stick beating the rhythm on a wooden floor.
African in its origins, the ring shout affirms oneness with the Spirit and ancestors as well as community cohesiveness. The ring shout was first described in detail during the Civil War by outside observers in coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia.
Its practice continued well into the 20th Century, even as its influence was resounding in later forms like spiritual, jubilee, gospel and jazz. By the late 20th century, the ring shout itself was presumed to have died out until its rediscovery in McIntosh County in 1980; thus, the beginning of the McIntosh County Shouters.
Welcomed to Statesboro
At the end of the performance members of the Bulloch County Historical Society and Averitt Center boards approached the stage and gave each performer a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
Then they were escorted to the main Gallery of the Averitt Center where they were treated, along with everyone in attendance, to a reception catered by catered by Annette McCray and her team from Touch of Class Catering.