The Fisk Jubilee Singers were a group of African American singers studying at Fisk University. They are recognized for preserving African American spirituals. The University was experiencing financial hardship, a musical professor created a nine member choral ensemble of students and went on tour to earn money for the school. The original Jubilee Singers introduced “Slave songs” in 1871; in 1872, they sang at the World Peace Festival in Boston. Later in that year, they performed for President Ulysses S. Grant at the White House.
In 1999, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were featured in Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory, a PBS award-winning television documentary series, produced by WGBH/Boston.
In July 2007, the Fisk Jubilee Singers went on a sacred journey to Ghana at the invitation of the U.S. Embassy. It was a history making event, as the ensemble traveled to Ghana for the first time and joined in the celebration of the nation’s Golden Jubilee, the 50th independence anniversary.
In 2008, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were selected as a recipient of the 2008 National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artists and patrons of the arts. The award was presented by President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush, during a ceremony at the White House.