Jubilee Quartets

Jubilee quartets became a popular religious musical movement in the first half of the 20th century. This genre started in the mid 1800’s by African-American university singing groups. Is consisted of mostly men and the earliest a cappella vocal groups were originally known as jubilee quartets because of the nature and characteristics of the performance. Jubilee Quartet is vocal a cappella ensemble generally a minimum of four voices and a maximum of six voices that performs formal arrangements of spirituals and limited instruments.

The jubilee quartet carries a humor component and later Blacks and whites offered competing depictions of slave life for entertainment. The traditional elements carries humor and the tempo also varies during the song. The songs are strophic which is a single melody repeated with different set of lyrics. In the 19th century jubilee quartets became popular at universities. The most popular university singing movement was the Fisk Jubilee Singers a capella ensemble. At the time, Fish University was on the verge of bankruptcy and to avoid the university from closure, George White gathered students to go on tour to earn money for the institution. This genre was popularized as a Negro spiritual tradition and the jubilee singers used this a means of breaking racial barriers in the U.S. and abroad.

One of the consistent patterns I have seen when writing these posts is how music is mostly used by black communities to address the challenges they were facing. Through varying genres, rhythms and lyrics black people used music to share their stories and they also used it for therapeutic purposes.

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