Since before the choir’s beginning in 1886, the music of Tuskegee University has maintained a tradition of choral history and influenced the musical landscape of this country.
Founder Booker T. Washington, insisted on the singing of African American spirituals by everyone in attendance at the weekly Chapel worship services, a tradition which continues today. Further, he stated, “…If you go out to have schools of your own, have your pupils sing them as you have sung them here, and teach them to see the beauty which dwells is these songs…” Thus, the school developed and passed on a singing tradition.
In 1884, Booker T. Washington organized the Institute’s first singers. The Tuskegee Quartet consisted of students Hiram H. Thweatt of Tuskegee, Alabama and John F. McLeMore of Cussetta (Chambers County), Alabama, Warren Logan, a Hampton Institute graduate from Greensboro, N.C. and leader Robert H. Hamilton, also a Hampton graduate from Hampton, Virginia. This group was sent out by the founder to “promote the interest of Tuskegee Institute” by acquainting benevolent audiences to the Tuskegee name and the Washington philosophy for several brief years. The quartet was reorganized in 1909 and intermittently traveled until well into the 1940’s, sometime adjusting its members to five, six or even up to eight.
Famous alumni and former students of Tuskegee University include Lionel Richie, William King, and Milan Williams, all members of the group The Commodores and rapper Rich Boy.