The Jubilee quartet period is sometimes referred to as the period before gospel music. The quartets began in historically black colleges in the 1800s and spread throughout the Western world. The quarters are known as jubilee quartets because of the style of repertoire and the way in which they are performed. Jubilee quartets consisted mostly of men, and while they usually consisted of four (4) people, at times, they consisted of six (6) people. Additionally, these quartets were sung A Capella. Yes, at times there was an accompanying band that played along sigh the jubilee singers, however, for the majority of performances and construction of the songs, the only instruments heard, were the voices of the singers.
Jubilee quartets sang on the importance of freedom and portrayed joyfulness and deep spirituality. Below are three clips from three different jubilee quartets. Please note, while jubilee quartets originated from African American roots and were mostly sung by African Americans during its music period, white singers also participated in this genre. These clips represent every sector if jubilee quartets: University quartet (Fisk Jubilee Singers), African American quartet (The Golden Gate Quartet), and White quartet (Whitey Gleason and The Jubilee Quartet).