The renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers are celebrating 150 years of keeping the Negro Spirituals alive, the Tennessee Tribune reports.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, the Grammy award-winning group will host and perform at a benefit concert in the historic Ryman Auditorium on November 11, 2021.
“This has been an extraordinary year, and we are so excited about the future of the Fisk Jubilee Singers,” said Dr. Jens Frederiksen, Executive Vice President, Fisk University. “The voices of the Fisk Jubilee Singers have inspired generations across the country and the world, and today’s ensemble continues to exemplify everything that makes Fisk University such a special place.”
Earlier this year, the Fisk Jubilee Singers received their first Grammy Award for Best Roots Gospel Album, making Fisk University the first HBCU to be awarded a Grammy. Also, they received a Rhapsody and Rhythm Award from the National Museum of African American Music and a Dove Award nomination.
Through an anonymous donor, the group was gifted $1.5 million, one of the largest in the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ history. The donation will go towards establishing a permanent endowment named after longtime musical director Paul T. Kwami, who is also an alumnus of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The endowment fund will help support artistic projects and recruit future generations of Fisk Jubilee Singers.
“Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers is an incredible milestone,” said Butch Spyridon, President, and CEO, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “We are honored to support this event and the singers who first started exporting music from Music City all those years ago.
Organized in 1871 by George L. White, a Fisk treasurer and music professor, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were instrumental in introducing, cultivating, and sharing the tradition of the Negro spiritual to the world. The choral ensemble traveled throughout the world in the 1800s, singing sacred songs of the Black spiritual tradition to raise money to support the university. The group still travels internationally, representing not only Fisk University but also Music City. The ensemble is made up of Fisk students who are selected annually through an audition process.
According to the group’s description, “the Fisk Jubilee Singers are an American a cappella ensemble that performs Negro spirituals originally sung by slaves before the Civil War. The first group of Singers arranged the music and took it on the road beginning in 1871 introducing the public to a new genre that remains a vibrant musical tradition today.”
Tickets are on sale now for the concert.