The Dixie Hummingbirds: Spirituals to Soul


The Dixie Hummingbirds originated from Greenville, South Carolina in 1928. James Davis is credited as the member to first create the group as well as put the quartet together. The other members of the group include Barney Parks, Bonnie Gipson Jr., and Fred Owens. The quarter first performed at the Bethel Church of Holiness in South Carolina and then traveled to Atlanta. This is when the quartet decided to pursue music as spiritual entertainers.


There are many aspects of jubilee that all jubilee quartets encompassed. The first element is the spiritual/gospel aspect. This aspect first originated from negro spirituals and arranged to be more upbeat and optimistic compared to the soultry sounds of the negro spiritual. Much like the predecessor of music genres before jubilee, call-and-response was also an important aspect of jubilee music. The lead singer would often act as the person call and the other singers would be responding. Syncopation was another important aspect of jubilee quartets. Jubilee quartets often exhibited a lot of syncopations in there songs and an absence of rhythm.


The Dixie Hummingbirds garnered much success from traveling to different towns and also performing on local radio stations. They continued doing these performances until they gained esteem. They were eventually able to travel to New York and record sixteen a cappella tracks for Decca records. Within the 1930’s the Dixie Hummingbirds became well-known and started to work in various institutions.


The Dixie Hummingbirds were able to take some credit for being one of the pioneers of jubilee music. While they gained some traction during the 1930s and 1940s, they did not receive their big break until the 1950s. They were considered one of the leading gospel groups during the time. The Dixie Hummingbirds were also able to win a Grammy in the 1970s for their rendition of “Loves Me Like A Rock”.

Conclusory Statement

The Dixie Hummingbirds have been able to withstand time and show the longevity of Black music for decades. This might have been the first time within American History that Black people were able to be accredited for something we created as well as being recognized for our talents. The Dixie Hummingbirds were extremely important during their time and had determination to be known, in which they were successful.


Zolten, Jerry. “Dixie Hummingbirds.” The American Mosaic: The African American Experience, ABC-CLIO, 2019, Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

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