The 134th Annual Faulkner County Singing Convention brought together more than 100 old friends whose main connection is the love of singing.


Friday night’s gathering filled the sanctuary at Life Song Baptist Church in Greenbrier. Saturday’s crowd was smaller but no less enthusiastic.


Saturday’s potluck luncheon was an enticement, said Robert Clark of Morrilton, convention president.


Getting the most praise from the offerings at the serving table were two chess pies -- one chocolate -- made by Jonathan Sawrie, a former member of the Melody Boys Quartet and vice-president of the Faulkner County Convention.


Back in the sanctuary, members of the audience took turns leading the singing, and some, like June McCollum Wood, were privileged to lead songs they had written.


“Oh, yes. I like to hear my songs sung,” Wood said.


In explaining the music, Clark said it’s difficult to describe.


“Though many churches are going contemporary, our style of singing is still very much alive,” Clark said.


“It comes from the old sacred harp tradition based on shaped notes. The early songs had four shapes; ours are seven. Our style is sometimes called New Book Singing, Convention Singing. Some might term it Southern Gospel or just Congregational Singing.”


The shaped notes were originally used as a guide for singing without accompaniment, but the Greenbrier singing had the benefit of two pianos with extra embellishments.


Clark is hoping to establish “singing schools” in the area so the tradition will continue.


He said he’s read scientific studies that show a connection between singing and longevity.


“One study featured a woman in her 90s who was still singing and playing the piano,” he said.


“Look around this room,” Clark said, nodding at the smiling silver-haired singers. “There may be something to it.”

(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at becky.harris@thecabin.net and 505-1234.)