On view May 25 – November 11

Mountain Man

The Shakers wrote an estimated 25,000 songs, approximately 10,000 of which survive — more than all ballads and spirituals combined. From American anthems like Simple Gifts to lesser-known hymns, ballads, and laboring songs, music continues to occupy a central role in Shaker life and worship. While Mighty Thunders Roll explores and expands this musical legacy through a display of historic objects and ephemera shown alongside newly commissioned a cappella renditions of Shaker songs performed by a selection of popular musicians, including Natalie Merchant, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Mountain Man, with an instrumental introduction by Yo-Yo Ma. Displayed on video and audio installations, While Mighty Thunders Roll enlivens the history of Shaker music and illuminates the power of voice as a fundamental expression of spirit.

Artists and Song Selections
For full details, click here.

Tim Eriksen
Folk and punk rock singer
Amherst, MA
Father James’ Song (Harvard, MA, 1783)
Farewell Earthly Joys (Canterbury, NH, 1855)

Rayna Gellert
Folk singer
Nashville, TN
I Never Did Believe (Betsy Bates, New Lebanon, NY, 1829)

Alice Gerrard
Country and bluegrass singer
Durham, NC
Lay Me Low (Addah Z. Potter, New Lebanon, NY 1838)

Hiss Golden Messenger
Folk and gospel musician
Durham, NC
Fall on the Rock (Watervliet, NY, 1845, compiled by Rollin Cramer)

Katell Keineg
Alternative pop/rock singer
Cardiff, Wales
Willow Tree (Mary Hazard, Lebanon, 1840s)

Little Nora Brown
Traditional folk singer
Brooklyn, NY
Little Children (Pleasant Hill, KY 1857)

Yo-Yo Ma
Classical cellist
New York, NY
All is Summer (Groveland, NY, 1875), Vision Hymn
Who Will Bow and Bend Like a Willow Medley, Step Tune

Natalie Merchant
Folk and pop singer
Jamestown, NY
Watch Ye (Nancy Wells, Watervliet, NY 1841)

Mountain Man
Indie and folk band
Bennington, VT
Simple Gifts (Joseph Brackett, Alfred, ME, 1848)

Allison Russell (of Birds of Chicago / Our Native Daughters)
Folk and Americana artist
Chicago, IL
Pretty Home (Patsy Williamson, Pleasant Hill, KY 1849)


While Mighty Thunders Roll is guest curated and produced by Jeffrey Gaskill and organized for Hancock Shaker Village by Sarah Margolis-Pineo, curator. The exhibition is sponsored by Joyce Bernstein and Larry Rosenthal, The Dobbins Foundation, Mac & Jenny Morris in memory of Alicia Morris, American Macular Degeneration Foundation, and Hill Engineers, Architects, and Planners Inc.