Tag Archives: Music

The Musical Million: The Ruebush-Kieffer Company, Singing Schools, and the Birth of Southern Gospel

By Gregg D. Kimball, Library of Virginia

Musical Million mastheadThe close of the American Civil War brought two young men back to a devastated Shenandoah Valley and an uncertain future. Aldine Silliman Kieffer had joined the Tenth Virginia Volunteer Infantry and campaigned with the Army of Northern Virginia until his capture and imprisonment in 1864. Waiting to greet him on his release from Fort Delaware was his brother-in-law and friend, Ephraim Ruebush, who had served in the Union Army. The war divided many Valley families, but Kieffer and Ruebush put the past aside and renewed their friendship.

Before the war, both had worked for Kieffer’s grandfather, the pioneering Mennonite music publisher and singing master Joseph Funk. Now Funk was dead and the business lay in ruins. These two men would revive Funk’s legacy and build a company that was the foremost publisher of sacred shape-note books in the nineteenth century South: the Ruebush-Kieffer Company of Singer’s Glen and later Dayton, Virginia, in Rockingham County. To honor that legacy, the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Chronicle website has launched a fully searchable run of the company’s music journal —The Musical Million: A Journal of Music, Poetry, and Chaste Home Literature. We give special thanks to Eastern Mennonite University and Simone Horst for facilitating the digitization of their copies of the journal. The Musical Million spread the Gospel of congregational shape-note singing far and wide and laid the groundwork for the proliferation of singing schools across the South.

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Shape-note hymnody came about because of a practical problem—Protestant denominations became convinced that the people of the church should praise the Lord through song, but how to accomplish this end was uncertain. Churchmen had long puzzled over how to lead congregational singing among the untutored and often illiterate. The first solution … read more »

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What a Long, Oderus Trip It’s Been: Four Decades of GWAR in Richmond’s Weekly and Alternative Press

In Memory of Dave Brockie (1963 – 2014)

Perhaps the earliest newspaper photo of Oderus Urungus (A.K.A Dave Brockie) of GWAR?  From VCU’s student newspaper The Commonwealth Times, 4 November 1986.

Halloween 3Announcement for GWAR’s “Phallus in Wonderland” a “Completely unique mini-musical movie.” From Throttle, Jan/Feb 1992.

Announcement for GWAR's "Phallus in Wonderland" a "Completely unique mini-musical movie." From Throttle, Jan/Feb 1992.

List of Richmond’s best local bands chosen by The Richmond Music Journal, 1993.

Excerpt from the article “We Tried Everything There is to do in Richmond in 24 Hours” written by John Sarvay. At 4:30, a visit to the Slave Pit. From Caffeine, August 1993.

Column “Ramblings” announces GWAR’s upcoming tour. From Throttle, April/May 1994.

RAWG (GWAR without costumes) playing at Twisters. From The Richmond Music Journal, February 1999.

Excerpt and photo from “Time and Money: GWAR’s Biggest Enemies,” RVA Magazine, vol. 4, issue 2, 2008.

Excerpt from the piece “Spawned and Spurned” by Landis Wine. From RVA Magazine vol. 5, issue 4, 2009.

 GWAR’s Oderus Urungus (A.K.A. Dave Brockie) on the cover of Style, 28 March 2012.

The Original Scumdogs. From Style 28 March 2012.

 … read more »

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