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Sacred Steel

Sacred Steel

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(1:24:19, 77.2MB; S1576 C97-84, C97-85, D94-20)

In 1992, while serving as State Folklorist, Bob Stone unearthed what became known as Sacred Steel music in South Florida.

Transcript of the Introduction

Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection Podcast Series from the Department of State Archives of Florida.

Since the 1930s, the sounds of steel guitar have been heard in an unlikely place, far removed from Nashville or the Hawaiian islands. Musicians in the Pentecostal House of God church use the steel guitar instead of the often-heard organ or piano to lead their lively, music-driven worship services. The very human, voice-like qualities of lap and pedal steel guitars are perfectly suited to underscore a spirited sermon or lead an ecstatic choir in praise.

In 1992, while serving as State Folklorist, Bob Stone unearthed what became known as Sacred Steel music in South Florida. His extensive research led to the publication of multiple sound recordings from Willie Eason, Sonny Treadway, and Aubrey Ghent—featured here on this podcast—as well as a video documentary and a book titled Sacred Steel: Inside an African American Steel Guitar Tradition.

Stone’s research brought a heightened interest in Sacred Steel music. This newfound popularity became a source of conflict for House of God musicians: should the music be kept within the strict confines of the church, or shared with the general public as a form of ministry? Fortunately for the listening audience, some musicians chose to share this unique tradition in secular venues such as the Florida Folk Festival. Listen as Bob Stone interviews Willie Eason and Sonny Treadway between songs at the Folklife Narrative Stage during the 1997 Florida Folk Festival, followed by a rousing 1994 performance from Aubrey Ghent closing out the Festival’s Main Stage.

For more information on Sacred Steel music in Florida, visit the Voices of Florida page on the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources website.

Enjoy.