Unit 1: Ring Shout with Brenton
The ring shout is one of the oldest known West African performance traditions surviving on the North American continent. Performed for the purpose of religious worship, celebration, and fellowship, this fusion of movement, song, and percussion survives today in the coastal Southeastern part of the United States. It has been preserved and shared through the heritage of the Gullah Geechee people.
Brenton learned ring shout as a young child from his family as an oral tradition passed on from generation to generation. The idea of passing along this musical tradition is an integral part of the practice. The shout refers to the shuffling motion of the feet and is performed in a counterclockwise circle. The ring/circle that the shout is performed in is a symbol to show the connection between the past, present, and future. The influences and evolution of ring shout can be heard in many other genres of music including jazz, pop, blues, gospel, and hip-hop.
Meet Brenton Jordan
I’m Brenton and I perform a style of music called ring shout. My hometown is on the coast of Georgia, and we always see fishermen and shrimp boats coming and going. I am part of a group called the McIntosh County Shouters along with several of my family members. Our ancestors have been singing these songs on the Georgia Sea Islands for hundreds of years. I can’t wait to sing our songs with you!
Students will explore rhythm, call & response and aural tradition by exploring some of the musical layers in “Kneebone Bend.”
Go to Lesson 1: Learning “Kneebone Bend” →
Students will explore the lyrics and the role of the songster in “Move Daniel” by listening, analyzing vocal choices and following the lyrics for shout directions.
Go to Lesson 2: Exploring “Move Daniel” →
- Gullah Roots, South Carolina Educational Television. Part of SCETV’s Carolina Stories series, this documentary dives deep into South Carolina’s ties with West Africa, educating viewers about Gullah heritage, including spiritual, musical, and artistic traditions.
Additional Teaching Resources:
- McIntosh County Shouters, Master Artists of the Authentic Ring Shout
- Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission
- “Plantation Dance/Ring Shout” on PBS LearningMedia
- “Learning and Teaching Ringshout” on Santa Barbara Ringshout Project
- See a map of the Gullah Geechee Corridor on National Geographic
Unit 1: PDF Downloads
SG8 – Let’s Explore Ring Shout! ↓ Download File
SG9 – Meet Brenton! ↓ Download File
SG10 – We Asked Brenton… ↓ Download File
SG11 – “Kneebone Bend” Lyrics ↓ Download File
SG12 – Stickman Patterns ↓ Download File
SG13 – What Are Your Roots? ↓ Download File
SG14 – Traditions of Gullah Geechee ↓ Download File
SG15 – Practice Speaking Gullah ↓ Download File
SG16 – You Are the Stickman ↓ Download File
Unit 1: Audio Tracks
Track 03 – Kneebone Bend
Track 04 – Stickman Rhythmic Pattern
Track 05 – Move Daniel (Spoken Introduction)
Track 06 – Move Daniel
Track 07 – Move Daniel (Songster Excerpt)