The Tuskegee University (formally known as Tuskegee Institute) Golden Voices Choir, is a prime example of HBCUs serving as a mechanism to bring Negro Spirituals to a national and international level. This has not only allowed the exposure of black culture but these choirs have also provided students opportunities that they otherwise may not have been exposed to.
Who are the Golden Voices?
The Tuskegee University Golden Voices are the university’s premier choir that has been in existence since 1886. The founder of Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington, wanted to have students sing Negro spirituals on a weekly basis at the worship services. By starting this, Washington started a tradition that contributed to putting Negro spirituals and African American choirs on the map.
Where have the Golden Voices been?
In addition to performing for peers and other schools in the nation, The Golden Voices have had the privilege to perform in some of the most esteemed stages. In 1932, during the lead of William L. Dawson, he brought the choir to Carnegie Hall which is one of the most prestigious stages in the world. Dawson is known for bringing the choir into a “new era.” Another historical moment for the group was in 1972 when the choir became the first African American choir to perform at the Lincoln Center. Additionally, The Golden Voices have performed for the president of the United States and at the White House on multiple occasions, one of which included the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994.
Why it matters.
Through the efforts of student artist and their directors, African American students get the opportunity to learn about their history through music and are given the opportunity to share it with the world. While history books and curriculums try to hide the power and importance of the Negro spirituals, groups like the Golden Voices spend their collegiate years working towards sharing our rich history.