History behind Minstrel Shows

Minstrel shows became a popular form of entertainment created by whites, for whites. Minstrel shows incorporated dances, songs, dialogue and performance routines that reflected what White people thought of African Americans. Often White Actors would dress up in “Black Face” which involved painting your face black and depicting African Americans as less intelligent. This form of entertainment for white people also featuring a number of racist stereotypes held against Black people.

A White man dressed in Black Face in attempt to provide entertainment for the all White audience

The Black Minstrel Shows

In response to the ongoing racist Minstrel shows, meant to humiliate African Americans, companies with all-Black cast created their own minstrel groups. This led to Black and White shows competing for their own interpretation of Southern slave life. In the Black Minstrel shows the attention was focused on religious practices, paving the way for new religious material in Minstrel shows.

The picture to the left shows the advertisement to Callender’s Georgia Minstrels. This show had an all Black Cast and it became incredibly popular because they introduced they featured an ensemble performing Jubilee songs.

Impact on Jubilee Quartet

Due to the success of Callender’s Georgia Minstrel, it caused Black minstrel groups to include religious singing in their performances. Some groups even added Jubilee to their titles as well. Later on, African American male quartets became more sought after as they were now more desirable for commercial opportunities. This not only included singing Jubilee or spiritual songs but also comedy and secular songs regarding plantation life as well.