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Posted: November 3, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Shout out

Submitted photo/

Watch the McIntosh County Shouters perform and you’re watching living history.

The 10-member group, which got its start in 1980, performs centuries-old songs passed through the generations in the Gullah communities along the Southern coast.

"It’s something that’s been going on in the community forever," Bettye Ector, the narrator for the group, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

The Shouters perform without instruments, save a flatboard and a stick-like rod to create the rhythm. That’s supplemented with clapping.

The four or five women onstage are the shouters, singing the song in Gullah and moving to the beat in a counterclockwise motion.

The men in the group create the rhythm, with one serving as the songster, leading the songs, Ector said.

It’s a tradition and an art form that will be celebrated when the Shouters take the stage at 4 p.m. Sunday at Porter Hall at Newton High School, 140 Ram Drive.

The performance is presented by the Arts Association in Newton County and sponsored by General Mills, Michelin Tread Technologies and Springfield Baptist Church.

Tickets are $5 for students, $8 for seniors and $10 general admission, available at newtoncountyarts.org, at the arts association office at 1106 Washington St. downtown, or by calling (770) 786-8188.

As narrator, Ector provides the background for each song. Since the songs are in Gullah, she literally serves as an interpreter for the performance.

A longtime educator, Ector was invited into the group about 20 years ago. The performances are vigorous, and her narrative offers a bit of respite for the performers.

It’s a no-frills event, but it’s a crucial cultural asset.

"The real significance is to demonstrate our heritage and we are trying desperately to hold on to it," she said.

Learn more about the group at mcintoshcountyshouters.com.

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