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Artist Band Biography: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Fisk Jubilee Singers - Music Artist Band Bio

Biography

Until the emergence of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, African-American church music was rarely if ever heard outside churches or the homes of black Americans. On 6 October 1871 a group of students at Fisk University, six female, five male, accompanied by a pianist, Ella Shepherd, and two university officials, a Miss Wells and George L. White, left Nashville, Tennessee, at the start of a fund-raising tour. The idea was White's who, as treasurer of the university, was desperately seeking ways to ensure the continuation of Fisk, one of few educational establishments open to blacks. The tour was scheduled to last some weeks, possibly a few months. In fact, it was seven years before the group returned home! During this time the Singers appeared at many venues in the USA, including the World Peace Jubilee in Boston, Massachusetts, and then embarked on a visit to Europe where they sang for heads of state and royalty. In London, England, they performed for Queen Victoria, who was so impressed that she commissioned a portrait of the group. The tour raised $150,000, a huge sum for those days and enough to build the Jubilee Hall at Fisk. The impact made by the Jubilee Singers on the world of music was enormous, although, as Viv Broughton has pointed out in his study of gospel music, Black Gospel, almost from the outset they adapted their style to accommodate the needs and expectations of their largely white audience. For all of their enormous courage and success, these pioneers of gospel music were offering a diluted form of the real music sung in churches by African Americans, newly risen from slavery. "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot', one of the early spirituals to achieve popular acceptance, is believed to have originated through a tale told to the Singers" first pianist, Ella Shepherd, by her mother, a slave, who was separated from her daughter by the actions of her master.

Bibliography:
Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story Of The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Andrew Ward.



Source: Encyclopedia of Popular Music

Music Albums

Vol. 2 (1915-20)
Document
06/11/1997

Vol. 3 (1924-40)
Document
12/03/1997

Vol. 1 (1909-11)
Document
10/30/1997

In Bright Mansions [ECD] *
Curb Records
01/28/2003

Vol. 1 (1909-11)
Document
09/2000

Vol. 2 (1915-20)
Document
09/2000

Vol. 3 (1924-40)
Document
09/2000

 
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