Jubilee Spiritual

By: Dasia Byrd and Sonah Bundu
Date: 9/20/21
Class: M W F @1
Post: #3

The Jubilee is a celebration or spiritual song that refers to “Jubilo” or the biblical practice of setting slaves free every 50 years. In 1871, the Fisk university jubilee singers emerged from academia with an all black chorus and more authentically black musical arrangements.

Fisk singers went across Europe and beyond introducing spirituals to the world. Even with the slow progression of black authentic music, white composers and listeners still saw black music as outlandish and associated racism behind it. Some African Americans associated the spiritual tradition with slavery and were not enthusiastic about continuing it, but the Fisk University singers performers, persuaded many that it should be continued. The Fisk singers changed the negro spiritual into an art form and introduced it to the world. While traveling they challenged racial prejudice and forced some changes in the law. They inspired so many others and gave birth to a concert hall tradition of performing this music that has remained strong to this day.

1800s Fisk University jubilee singers singing spiritual gospel

Negro spirituals constitutes one of the largest and most significant forms of American folksong. Spirituals are usually sung in the call and response form with a leader emphasizing a line of text and a chorus providing a solid refrain of unison. Ensembles around the country started to emulate the Jubilee Singers, giving birth to a concert hall tradition of performing this music that has remained strong to this day. Famous conductors who have taken this music form beyond its traditional folk song roots consist of R. Nathaniel Detr, Moses Hogan, Ronald Carter, Wendall Whalum, etc. These Spirituals served as a way to express the community’s faith, sorrows, and hopes


1. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/mar/18/spiritual-journey-fisk-jubilee-singers-gospel-freedom-song

2. https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200197495/

3. http://exhibits.lib.usf.edu/exhibits/show/minstrelsy/jimcrow-to-jolson/jubilees-gospel-spirituals

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