The Jubilee Singers' performances were a departure from the familiar "black minstrel" genre of white musicians' performing in blackface and early performances were met with confusion and hostility. As the tour continued, audiences came to appreciate the singers' voices, and the group began to be praised. In early 1872 the group performed at the World's Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival in Boston, and for President Ulysses S. Grant at the White House in March of that year.
In a tour of Great Britain and Europe in 1873, the group, by then with 11 members, performed for Queen Victoria. The queen, fascinated by the singers, commissioned a massive portrait of them which still hangs in the university’s Jubilee Hall. They continued to tour and perform and between 1875 and 1878 raised an estimated $150,000 for the university.
The Jubilee Singers are credited with the early popularization of the Negro spiritual tradition among white and northern audiences; many were previously unaware of its existence. They broke racial barriers in the US and abroad in the late 19th century and influenced many other troupes of jubilee singers who would go on to make their own contributions to the genre, such as the Original Nashville Students, Chicago’s Williams Jubilee Singers, and the Los Angeles- based Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers. The Jubilee Singers perform to this day. In 2017, they were inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame.
Hear the Fisk Jubilee Singers perform "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray" and "Rockin' Jerusalem"
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This page references:
- Exhibit 02- The Legacy of the Fisk Jubilee Singers
- The Shambrey Chorale
- Albert McNeil and the choir of People's Independent Church
- Chicago's Famous Williams Jubilee Singers
- The Story of the Jubilee Singers with their songs.
- Cabinet Card of the Fisk Jubilee Singers
- dlw Community Chorale
- 2019 Fisk Jubilee Singers
- Fisk Jubilee Singers Gold and Blue Album