Jubilee Quartets

Origin of Genre

After the negro spirituals came the Jubilee Quartets in the 1800s.  The Jubilee Quartets stemmed from University singing which is why we still see the use of the professional and formal attire just like University Singing.This genre created a mix of spirituals and westernized adaptations. Jubilee Quartets include 4 to six singers with a first tenor, 2nd tenor, baritone, and bass singers. Jubilee Quartets are moderate to fast paced singers that focus more on the group sound rather than individual sound, hence the small emphasis on solo singers.


As mentioned earlier, Jubilee Quartets are made up of 4 to six people. There is a bass singer, 1st tenor, 2nd tenor, and baritone singer. The baritone singer serves as the lead or the narrator. The bass serves as the lowest note singer and the 1st tenor sings the highest notes and the 2nd tenor fills in between the 1st tenor and the bass singer. There are 3 main variations of Jubilee Quartet singers. There is the Shape note and Sharp Harps which was a classical approach to the genre. The Barbershop community variation involved fast pace harmonies, folk music, and popular rhythmic music. The minstrel variation was more humorous and mocked the other variations of Jubilee Quartets.


In the 1920s radio became popular and Jubilee Quartets were often played which helped its popularity. The live broadcasts allowed many to hear the music which eventually led to tours.Victor Record Company recorded the first black sacred quartet on discs in 1902. 

Important Performers

Influences of Future Genres

Jubilee quartets have influenced the melodies and its continuation of call and response has impacted the power of call and response which is heavily used in gospel, R & B, and especially Blues. The story telling nature of Jubilee Quartets is still used to this day.

Social Implications

 In this point of history, African Americans were extremely limited in the things they were allowed to do, so the Jubilee Quartets offered opportunities that wouldn’t have been allotted. This gave African Americans the opportunity to share their talents in films and on radio.

Conclusory Opinion

Jubilee Quartets are an honest joy to listen to. Hearing 4 people make a wondrous and harmonic sound takes a lot of talent. The Jubilee Quartets also opened up some major doors for African Americans. It’s really interesting to see how aspects of the Jubilee Quartets are included in today’s music.

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