History of Jubilee Quartets
Jubilee quartets began at Fisk University with a group called the Fisk Jubilee Singers created and organized by George L. White. These quartets featured harmonic arrangements while focusing on channeling a restrained musical tone/expression. From this, minstrel, community-based, and barbershop quartets came to be. Toward the beginning of the 1930s, jubilee quartets began transitioning toward black churches and an improvisation style. This led directly to the creation of gospel quartets. Gospel quartets combined rhythmic beats of blues and jazz while expressing their spirituality. In the 1930s, these groups were able to become a house-hold name thru the use of radio broadcasts, records, and tours.
The Dixie Hummingbirds
The Dixie Hummingbirds were one of the most influential quartets, known for their unique musical arrangements, a versatile style, and delightful harmonies. The group was formed in the late 1930s in Greenville, South Carolina. Their first singles included “Little Wooden Church” and “Soon Will Be Done with the Troubles of This World”. In 1942 the group relocated to Philadelphia. The Dixie Hummingbirds became extremely spectacular due to their showmanship. They stayed away from the traditional quartet musicality in favor of showing soul music and a energetic performance. The quartet received sate-wide attention once they appeared on the Philadelphia radio station. They began performing live at cafes and by 1946 they started recording multiple hit songs. Their most known masterpieces are “Let’s Go Out to the Programs” (1953), “Nobody Knows the Trouble I See” (1959). “Christian’s Testimonial” (1954), “Christian Automobile” (1957), and “Trouble in My Way” (1952).
In 1978, the Dixie Hummingbirds were named The World’s Greatest Gospel Group by Ebony magazine. In 1973, the Dixie Hummingbirds won a Grammy award for Best Soul Gospel Performance for their hit album “Love Me Like a Rock”. In 2000, the Dixie Hummingbirds received a Grammy Hall of Fame for their hit song “Amazing Grace”.
In Conclusion, the Dixie Hummingbirds were a top group during the Jubliee Quartet era. They expressed their spirituality through combinations of rhythmic beats and smooth jazz. By the 1930s, the Dixie Hummingbirds became a true household name. This group inspired future black artists to cultivate their own style of performing. Truly, The Dixie Hummingbirds earned a rightful title of “icons”.