So the rest of this entry is basically about how proud of myself I am. Just warning you.
Over the weekend I went to the Seattle Sacred Harp convention with Jenn. Like the Portland convention that introduced me to Sacred Harp, it was fabulous. My courage bolstered by having led one song at a local Portland singing back on December 7*, I signed up to lead two songs, one Saturday afternoon and one Sunday afternoon. On Saturday I led Salem (68t), a slow minor song with no fugal elements, probably my favorite category of Sacred Harp song. It's not the best in that category, in my opinion, but I can't complain--so much singing happens at a convention that it's hard to find a song to lead that hasn't been done yet. (At one point I asked and found out that 90 songs were sung on Saturday, 81 on Sunday. The book itself only has 555 songs in it).
During a break Sunday morning, Jenn mentioned that some time I ought to learn to lead Southwell (365), a song that is challenging to lead because of rhythmic complexity, grand pauses, and fugal entrances. She specifically phrased it as a suggestion for a song I might want to study for the future, not lead that day. But I suppose finding out that it was challenging only served to encourage me. I was also encouraged when I returned to my seat to look it up, and found that it was already one of my favorites. So, against better judgment, when my name was called in the afternoon I decided to lead it. I thought it came off wonderfully, and the arranging committee must have agreed, because as the convention was winding down, to my great surprise, my name was called again, this time to lead a song along with a woman I had never met by the name of Rosie Lindsey. I was flattered.
Rosie suggested Sweet Rivers (61), which I was fine with. She then tried to withdraw the suggestion when I said that I didn't know it, but I had to explain that I was new enough to Sacred Harp singing that I pretty much didn't know any songs. It, also, turned out very well.
One of my favorite things about the convention was that I was much more comfortable striking up conversations with complete strangers than I ever remember being before (not just at a singing, but anywhere). I think I can credit that to tango dancing. Having consistently dealt with the pressure of asking a several complete strangers to dance in each night of dancing, just about everything else seems easy.
EDIT: if you want to hear more recordings, you can find hours of them here
*The song I led in December was Consecration (448), one of my absolute favorites. Although I didn't tell anyone at the time, I had mentally chosen to dedicate it to the former CEO of the company I work for, Alan Miksch.