• Karen Luke Jackson

"Songlines," a story about the Royal Singing Convention in Nobody's Home anthology


I’m thrilled that Songlines,” a story about the Royal Singing Convention, recently appeared in Nobody’s Home, an online anthology curated by Foster Dickson and featuring modern Southern folklore.


Founded in 1893 by my great-grandfather William Jackson Royal, the convention was an annual tradition in Irwin County, Georgia, for more than 80 years. When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, huge crowds flocked to Mystic (yes, the town’s name was and is Mystic!) in July to attend the event. A few days before the story was published, Billie Jo Abney, a great-great-granddaughter of William Jackson Royal, captured a priceless photo. Her children Ella Abney (center) and Bailey Abney (right) stand with their friend Will Fresh (left) in front of the bust at the memorial dedicated in 1991 to commemorate the convention which took place on that site.

To read the story, click here.

You can also listen to some of the last sing's audio recordings housed in the American Folklore Collection of the Library of Congress. And while you’re at it, check out my friend Jack Wallace’s story “True Believer”about a street preacher which appears in the same anthology.

Questions for Reflection

What customs or legacies, if any, were passed down from generation to generation in your family? What do you want to preserve and pass down to future generations?

How has music enriched your life? Are there "songlines" that serve as a memory bank to help you find your way home?



#songlines #nobodyshome #folklore #Southern #fosterdickson #IrwinCounty #Mystic #Georgia #shapenotes #singingconvention #WilliamJacksonRoyal #MarshallDaugherty #Smithsonian













#songlines #nobodyshome #folklore #Southern #fosterdickson #IrwinCounty #Mystic #Georgia #shapenotes #singingconvention #WilliamJacksonRoyal #MarshallDaugherty #Smithsonian