Origin of Jubilee Quartets

Jubilee Quartets originated within the African American university singing movement. A quartet is defined (within African American music) as a vocal ensemble consisting of a minimum of four voices and maximum of six voices singing four-part harmonies with limited instruments or a cappella.

Characteristics of Jubilee Quartets

Most jubilee quartet songs are strophic. This word refers to a song form in which a single melody is repeated with a different set of lyrics for each stanza. Call-and-response is also used within strophic style songs.

Social Implications

Minstrel Jubilee Quartets were developed by and for Whites in the 1840s. These quartets used songs, dances and performance routines to represent what White people viewed African Americans as. During the 1870s (when minstrelsy was experiencing its greatest success) both Whites and Blacks used jubilee quartet singing to represent slave life in two very different ways.

Important Performers

Important Jubilee Quartet performers include; The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Callender’s Georgia Minstrels, The Hampton Institute Jubilee Singers, The Southern University Jubilee Singers.

Commodification

In the 1870s, White people began their own jubilee quartets better known as Minstrel quartets. Barbershop Community Quartets also were popular within the white community. White minstrel performers often emulated African American barbershop quartets. Records of White groups singing barbershop style became so popular that many people associated the sound with White quartets.

Influences

Gospel quartets spawned from the creation of Jubilee quartets. Gospel music is said to be directly related to gospel music.

Conclusory Opinions

The impact of Jubilee quartets was definitely something that I was not aware of. I never knew that Gospel music spawned from the creation of quartets. Today, you can still hear some of the characteristics of Jubilee quartets in the Gospel music still be created.