Jubilee quartets typically are an acapella groups that consist of 4-6 members. Usually the members are either bass, baritone, 2nd tenor, or 1st tenor singers. Jubilee quartets originated in the mid-1800s and are a combination of quartet singing in the European tradition and African American singing. The jubilee genre came out of the Negro Spiritual as it is comprised of sacred texts but sung in a faster tempo. Later in the years it is seen that the jubilee period had a big influence on gospel also. The five blind boys of Mississippi is a wonderful example of a jubilee quartet. Even though they were born blind they came together as a group and made a lot of hit songs.
An example of a jubilee quartet group is The five blind boys of Mississippi. They have been very influential throughout the 1900s. The group originally started in the 1930s as a quartet of students from the Piney Woods School for the blind in Mississippi. This group consisted of the members:Brownlee, Joseph Ford, Lawrence Abrams, and Lloyd Woodard.They began performing under the name of “The Cotton Blossom Singers” and did both spiritual and secular material. They often sang on school grounds. After they graduated they began performing professionally in the 40s. Later on a fifth member was added to the group by the name of Melvin henderson. He was later replaced by Percell Perkins who eventually became the group’s manager. The group then became “The Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi” shortly after moving to Chicago. They were extremely influenced by the Soul Stirrers. Earlier in their career they did a lot of covers of their songs. Later during their career, Ford was replaced by J.T. Clinkscales,where in that year, the group moved to Peacock Records where they recorded the hit “Our Father” at their first session.
Brownlee, the founder of the group, became really famous while being a part of the group. He was known for his dynamic stage presence as he would sometimes leap in the audience even though he was blind. Sadly while on tour in New Orleans in 1960 he died of pneumonia. Perkins left to become a minister. Woodard died in the mid-70s and Lawrence Abrams in 1982, but the Five Blind Boys continued to tour with new members.
They had many hit singles. Among them were “Our Father”, “I never heard a man”, “Lord you’ve been good to me” and many more. Below are some samples: