Fisk Jubilee Singers
Fisk University opened in Nashville in 1866 as the first American university to offer a liberal arts education to “young men and women irrespective of color.” Five years later the school was in dire financial straits.
George L. White, Fisk treasurer and music professor then, created a nine-member choral ensemble of students and took it on tour to earn money for the University. The group left campus on October 6, 1871. Jubilee Day is celebrated annually on October 6 to commemorate this historic day.
The first concerts were in small towns. Surprise, curiosity and some hostility were the early audience response to these young black singers who did not perform in the traditional “minstrel fashion.”
One early concert in Cincinnati brought in $50, which was promptly donated to victims of the notorious 1871 fire in Chicago. When they reached Columbus, the next city on tour, the students were physically and emotionally drained. Mr. White, in a gesture of hope and encouragement named them “The Jubilee Singers,” a Biblical reference to the year of Jubilee in the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 25.
Continued perseverance and beautiful voices began to change attitudes among the predominantly white audiences. Eventually skepticism was replaced by standing ovations and critical praise in reviews. Gradually they earned enough money to cover expenses and send back to Fisk.
In 1872 they sang at the World Peace Festival in Boston and at the end of the year President Ulysses S. Grant invited them to perform at the White House
In 1873 the group grew to eleven members and toured Europe for the first time. Funds raised that year were used to construct the school’s first permanent building, Jubilee Hall. Today Jubilee Hall, designated a National Historic Landmark by the US Department of Interior in 1975, is one of the oldest structures on campus. The beautiful Victorian Gothic building houses a floor-to-ceiling portrait of the original Jubilee Singers, commissioned by Queen Victoria in during the 1873 tour as a gift from England to Fisk. The Fisk Jubilee Singers returned to England in May 2015 and performed in Birmingham. This was the first time in over one hundred years since the Fisk Jubilee Singers last performed in the United Kingdom.
The ensemble continues to travel around the world, singing the Negro spiritual and representing Fisk University. The two time GRAMMY Nominated Fisk Jubilee Singers® have won a Dove Award and have been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame as well as the Music City Walk of Fame. The ensemble performed in Ghana in 2007 when Ghanaians celebrated their 50th anniversary of independence. It was a “Sacred Journey.” In 2008, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were awarded the 2008 National Medal of Arts by former President George W. Bush at the White House. Other awards of the ensemble include the Governor’s Award, the Recording Academy Honors and the Heritage Award of the Nashville Music Awards. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are among the 2015 Grammy Hall of Fame inductees.
Starting at $42.50/Ticket
INDIVIDUAL DATES & TIMES *
- Mar 23, 2019 at 08:00 pm (Sat)
116 Fifth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219