Headhunters, now Southern Gospel Fans

National Geographic recently featured a short story on the Naga, a tribe in northeast India who were headhunters until the 1960s, and have become Christians. (As usual with the magazine, modesty warning for the illustrations!) Former Singing News editor Jim Cumbee noticed a particularly interesting passage, and shared it with his Facebook friends:

In the last village that I visit, I talk with another former headhunter, then return to our vehicle. That’s when I hear a familiar sound coming from a small hut. Not quite believing my ears, I ask my guide, “What is that music?”

“Do you happen to know the Gaither Vocal Band?”

“Yes, I do,” I reply. Bill Gaither’s group comes out of the Southern gospel tradition, playing music you might hear on a Sunday morning in small-town Mississippi. But hearing it on a Thursday morning in a village in remote Nagaland is a bit surprising. “The Gaither Vocal Band is very popular in Nagaland,” my guide explains.

Headhunter Homecoming, coming soon?


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9 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I sense a new Homecoming coming up. 🙂

  2. Headhunter Homecoming! Good one!

  3. I traveled to Fiji on business several years back and had to stay two weeks. (I didn’t say in the postcard-like places so this was not an easy trip.) Over the week-end I was walking around and a grounds worker had a radio. The song was in their native language but as I listened to the song it was very clear what it was … Squire Parsons’ “Beulah Land”. He could speak English so I asked him and sure enough he said it was indeed that song. He said that “this type” of music is popular in Fiji and local vocalist record the songs in their native language for radio. (Don’t tell ASCAP)

    • Fascinating!

    • That reminds me that in a hotel in China, I heard “Amazing Grace” being played as background music in the little restaurant there, sung by a Chinese person, in English, albeit with a very heavy accent that would have made it unintelligible had I not known the lyrics.

  4. I heard gospel music (the real quartet type) playing on a radio in Belize one time. I was in a real estate agents office and couldn’t believe the owner was playing it. He was a local.

    • From everything I’ve seen, Belize would be the country in South America where SG is strongest. Groups like the Kingdom Heirs and the Cathedrals do indeed have strong followings there.

  5. I’m glad they weren’t doing Kentucky Headhunters’ music. 😉

  6. Headhunter Homecoming. 🙂 That would be interesting!