Jubilee quartets were an important part of 20th century African American music and held significant cultural and religious importance. The name “Jubilee Quartet” itself derives from the early Fisk Jubilee Singers who sang negro spirituals. We previously studied negro spirituals in our last unit and we all know the significance of them to the black community. The fact that the name is derived from a group of singers who resided at Fisk University (a HBCU) holds even more weight.
HBCU’s were not only a hub for black culture but also for music. Negro Spirituals were also an influential part of black culture in HBCU’s and grew and further expanded there.
Black people needed places and time for solace and safety and that better place than a college where they were surrounded by their people. I believe that most black dominated music styles such as Negro Spirituals and Jubilee Quartets, even though they weren’t created there, they expanded and grew there.
The originators of the Jubilee Quartets at Fisk University inspired other HBCU’s such as Hampton, Tuskegee, and Wilberforce. In these various colleges and university’s, the quartets grew in strength, variation and numbers. They turned from more religious and formal to more energetic and free.
Eventually, the jubilee quartets migrated to black churches, barbershops and community centers.
In closing, HBCU’s had a large impact on the growth, migration and success of the music genre and style of the Jubilee Quartets.
Above is a video of the Mills Brothers, a famous jubilee quartet group.