Jesse P. Karlsberg
Jesse P. Karlsberg (project director, editor-in-chief, and technical lead) began developing Sounding Spirit in 2011 as a first-year PhD student in Emory University’s interdisciplinary Institute for the Liberal Arts. While working collaboratively with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship and Pitts Theology Library to commemorate the centenary of the 1911 publication of Original Sacred Harp, Karlsberg first identified the under-appreciation and inaccessibility of sacred vernacular music books from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Karlsberg proposed the development of the Readux platform to facilitate access to and research and publishing with digitized books from diverse archival locations. Over the course of his career, Karlsberg’s research has promoted engagement with influential, yet overlooked, collections of American hymnody, with a particular interest in the broad cultural impact of southern vernacular sacred music and its diaspora.
Today, Karlsberg oversees the Sounding Spirit scholarly edition and digital library projects and serves as product owner of Readux. In addition to his robust research portfolio on race and place in vernacular American sacred music, Karlsberg brings more than twenty years of experience as a practitioner of shape-note singing to these roles. Karlsberg entered the shape-note singing world as an undergraduate music major and is today an internationally recognized singer, teacher, composer, and songbook editor in the Sacred Harp tradition.
Meredith Doster (education director, managing editor, and editorial lead) has been supporting the Sounding Spirit initiative since 2018. With a masters degree in Appalachian Studies, the PhD in Religious Studies (American Religious Cultures), and over 15 years professional experience as educator, editor, and curriculum designer, Meredith brings place-based, practitioner-focused, research-driven sensibilities to the Sounding Spirit team and all collaborators. As scholar of American religions, Meredith traces pathways along which personal truths claim gospel-like authority. As practitioner and designer, Meredith wields a multi-modal, interdisciplinary toolkit that shapes Sounding Spirit’s curricular and convening models.
Meredith’s birthright inheritances include the seven-shape white gospel tradition of one Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Jamestown, Arkansas. In her late childhood, Meredith moved with her family to the former states of East Germany. Meredith roots her work in homeplace geographies that engage people and places displaced and disappeared. As Sounding Spirit’s people and project wrangler, Meredith models commitments to a quality of work that centers relationship. Her work as education lead invites faculty and students across disciplines to engage and share in learning and building together. Meredith’s research trajectory encompasses discreet sacred singing traditions and human universals. She lives and works from her home in Mars Hill, North Carolina, where she curates a professional portfolio of open access projects spanning genres, disciplines, modalities, and sectors. Meredith writes at wordmadelife.com.
Erin Fulton (music bibliographer and research associate) is a PhD candidate in musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Kentucky where she directs the Benton Big Singing project for the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. Fulton received her BM in musicology from the University of Kansas with highest distinction. In addition to university teaching, Fulton has served as a library paraprofessional for the University of Kentucky library system, Fort Hays State University, and the Sacred Harp Publishing Company. Her research focuses on Anglo- and German-American sacred music of the early nineteenth century with particular attention to book history, regional identity, and lived religion. She recently completed a term as Society for American Music Student Forum co-chair and presently sits on the archive committee of the International Buster Keaton Society. She was the 2018 American Congregationalist Association–Boston Athenæum fellow and received the best-of-chapter award for her presentation at the 2020 Music Library Association Conference, Southeast.
Sara Palmer (digital text specialist at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship) has been supporting the Sounding Spirit project since 2019. She received a MA from Emory University in Film and Media studies and has been working actively in the field of digital humanities technology since 2011. Palmer began her career as an encoder for The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot, a multiyear publication project in which she assumed a managing role. She currently engages with researchers on creating online exhibits, designing databases, generating network visualizations, and performing textual markup and analysis. For the Sounding Spirit project, she is responsible for implementing file management workflows, optical character recognition processes and migrating content to a customized interface.