Early Shaker Spirituals is based on a 1976 album of Shaker songs recorded by the sisters of the Shaker community in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. The album Early Shaker Spirituals has been in the Wooster Group's collection since the early 1980s, when Elizabeth LeCompte, Kate Valk, and other members of the company visited the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community and met with Sister R. Mildred Barker, who sings on the album. The piece features LeCompte, Cynthia Hedstrom, Frances McDormand, Bebe Miller, and Suzzy Roche, who channel the voices of the Shaker singers from the album via in-ear receivers to give a new live rendering to the songs. Complementing the songs are dances in which the singers are joined by Matthew Brown, Modesto Jimenez, Bobby McElver, and Andrew Schneider. Jamie Poskin serves as interlocutor, reading from the album's liner notes.