Jubilee Quartets- By Nyla Griffith

In the period of 1880-1929, a new genre of music was born in the African American community. This new genre is known as the jubilee quartet. Although the term”quartet” would imply that  there are four members, this is not necessarily always the case. Jubilee Quartets can have more than four members. They can have up to six members. One example of this is the Five Blind Boys.

Jubilee Quartets are formed with 4 main musical parts. This includes two tenors (1 first, 1 second), one baritone, and one base. Members sing together in an speedy acapella style with no instruments or other background music. Jubilee Quartets evolved as faster sung versions of Negro Spirituals. The upbeat style came as a celebration of freedom from slavery. The musicians sang about their struggles but more in a celebratory manner.

Visual of the Golden Gate Quartet. Members include: Willie Johnson, Henry Owens, William Langford, and Orlandus Wilson

Types of Jubilee Quartets include: 

    • University Jubilee Quartets
    • Minstrel Jubilee Quartets
    • Community-Based Jubilee Quartets
    • Shape Note/Sacred Harp Quartets
    • Barbershop Community Quartets

Important Performers Included:

  • The Golden Gate Quartet
  • Fisk Jubilee Performers
  • Norfolk Jubilee Quartet
  • Mills Brothers
  • Take 6
  • Sam Cooke
  • Dinwiddie Colored Quartet
  • Dixie Hummingbirds
  • Willie Dixon
  • Fairfield Four
  • Five Blind Boys
  • Georgia Minstrels
  • Pilgrim Travelers
  • Soul Stirrers
  • Wheat Street Female Quartet
  • Zion Harmonizers
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