The Santa Barbara Ringshout Project will do the traditional ring shout worship at Trinity Episcopal Church in Parish Hall on January 15 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
Ring shout is a “dance-like form of Christian worship” that was often performed by African-American slaves in the time before the American Civil War. The worship includes “moving in a counterclockwise circle, singing, clapping, stomping and beating on the floor rhythmically with a stick or broom,” according to the group, which was founded in 2007 by Mark Ravitz and Frances Moore to teach, practice, and share ring shout with others.
“The purpose of ring shout is to celebrate, educate, and to pass it onto the next generation,” said Moore, who said that some people “fail to see the value” of the form because they find it “old-fashioned” or “unsophisticated.” But she called ring shout her “bread and butter,” explaining that it influenced modern musical styles such as blues, jazz, and rock and roll. “I would like to see ring shout on every street corner, every city, every state, every country,” said Moore.
The Ringshout Project will practice the “dance-like” worship as one of many events during the weekend of January 15 to January 18 honoring Dr. King. The kick-off event includes a ceremony on the UCSB campus at noon followed that evening by the Ringshout Project’s performance at 7 p.m. The events will conclude on January 18 with the ninth annual city celebration hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara at the Arlington Theater.
“What we are doing for Dr. King’s celebration is to show how Dr. King promoted oneness of spirit, oneness of community, and that’s what ring shout does too,” said Moore. “We promote a oneness of the spirit, oneness of community.”