Jubilee Quartets


Jubilee quartets were popular African – American religious musical groups in the first half of the 20th century. They focused on preserving unique American musical traditions known as negro spirituals. Jubilee quartets influence a lot of African – American music today using examples from the first jubilee quartet group:Fisk Jubilee Singers, performances, and influences they made in different communities. 

Fisk Jubilee Singers

    Fisk Jubilee Singers are an African – American a capella group. They belong to Fisk university. It was the first university to start musical tours for financial aid. Jubilee Quartet was founded in the 1870s to raise funds for Black colleges facing financial difficulties. The quartets were composed of male and female groups of four to six voices performing formal arrangements. They also performed Capella arrangements of spirituals. Due to their unique musical style, which included blue notes, hocket, and melisma, these quartets quickly gained popularity. These quartets went on tours and also performed independently. Some Quartet singers’ hiring costs increased even more than the funds raised 


   President Ulysse invited the Jubilee Quartets to perform in the White House in 1892. They also performed in the World Peace Festival at the start of the same year. In Jubilee quartet performances, a vocalist introduces a text phrase and rest of the members join him to finish it. The performance style is highly synced, and there is an even vocal blend. However, different quartet groups varied in their performing styles. Some followed the college quartets and others followed folk-flavored style.    


   The word “Jubilee” has many connotations, like freedom from hardship and slavery. Later, the term, “Jubilee” was used to highlight a particular style of performing spirituals. In the 1900s , the singers from different universities like Fisk University, Wilberforce University, and the Hampton Institute started to form similar singing groups in local communities. These quartet groups also received sponsorship from a big the big companies. Their traditional songs also started reaching the North due to migration of African Americans in search of better jobs. These quartet groups also became the center of social life of the Black Community in America. They performed at almost all the events, like parties, dances, picnics, and even religious gatherings.In the 1920s and 1930s, they gave many live performances on their national tours

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