Pitch Perfect: Fisk University Jubilee Singers

 

The Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University introduced Negro Spirituals to the world in the late 1800’s. They have blazed a trail ever since. The original Fisk Jubilee singers were organized as an effort to raise funds for the then-struggling institution. The group consisted of nine students who were recently freed slaves.  They toured the U.S., earning nearly $40k on their first tour. The group was named after the Biblical reference to the year of Jubilee in the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 25.

The choir has been invited to sing in places as far as Ghana and as near as Carnegie Hall and the White House, singing before the likes of Queen Victoria, Mark Twain, and Prime Minister William Gladstone.

During a European tour, the group raised $150K, which was used for the school’s first permanent building, Jubilee Hall, which was named after the group. The Jubilee Singers have acquired several awards over the years, including the 2008 National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artists and patrons of the arts and even a Grammy nomination. Each year, Fisk University celebrates the Jubilee Singers by observing “ Jubilee Day” honoring the anniversary of their first tour on October 6.