The Influence of the Jubilee Quartet

What is A Jubilee Quartet?

Jubilee Quartet is a genre that originated in the late nineteenth century and drew its influences from Negro spirituals. As signified by the name, it is typically made up of 4 members. This genre is characterized by intricate harmonies and acapella arrangements, generally having little to no instruments so that the harmonies could be heard. There were three periods that made up this genre: the Jubilee period, the transitional period, and the gospel period, which gave way to the development of gospel music. Considering the racial issues of the time, Jubilee Quartets played a very influential role in breaking down some of the racial barriers of the time and developing African American music.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers

  • Originated in Nashville, Tennessee in 1871 from Fisk University
  • Began as a way to raise money for the university and educate newly emancipated slaves
  • They quickly became famous for their performances of  spirituals and styles of call-and-response and close harmonies
  • They performed for audiences internationally, going on tour under the leadership of their conductor, George L. White
  • They promoted a more inclusive and diverse society that celebrated the creativity of African American singers

The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet

  • Traditional quartet comprised of four men
  • originated in 1934 in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Characterized by their use of electric guitars and other modern instruments, intricate harmonies and vocal arrangements, and the addition of elements of jazz and popular music
  • Gained immense popularity through their creativity, high energy, and incorporation of choreography into their performances
  • Travelled nationally on tour and made several appearances

The Tuskegee Quartet

  • Originated in 1884 at the University of Tuskegee in Alabama
  • Gained popularity for their strong and innovative performances of hymns and spirituals 
  • Known for incorporating modern musical techniques and instruments into their performances
  • Legacy of using music to empower, uplift, and bring people together
  • Embarked on several national tours under the leadership of the conductor, R. Nathaniel Dett
  • Known for their involvement in social justice, using their platform to promote equality for the Black community and other marginalized communities

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