Jubilee was a genre of African American folk music that was popular from 1880-1950. The genre’s origin’s lies int the negro spirituals that were sung by slaves. Jubilee Quartets were a form of a cappella. There were the well known barbershop quarter , street performances and performances in Minstrel Shows. Jubilee Quartets were also formed in HBCUs as a way of funding them. Jubilee Quartets were commodified and could be heard on the radio, seen on TV and other forms of media broadcasting. This lead to the eventual creation of Gospel and other forms of African American music.
Jubilee Quartets are often performed with four people but some Jubilee Quartets have six members. Basic quartets usually have have strict rules to only have four members. This rule does not necessarily apply to Jubilee Quartets because they focus on four harmony style arrangements.
Jubilee Quartets separated themselves from the more Eurocentric quartets by focusing on arrangement over style.
Jubilee Quartets often made themselves seem more credible and respectable by dressing up in suits with ties or bowties and the formal accessories. Adopting a sort of uniform gives them a more respectable image which was crucial for African Americans to have during that time to be taken seriously.
Jubilee Quartets were usually a cappella. They created percussion and variation with their voices instead of instruments. This was usually done with practice and not improvisation which is an element of Black folk music.
The Jackson Jubilee
The Jackson Jubilee singers were founded by Robert Jackson. He sought to organize, train, and produce a company which not only is the last word in Jubilee singing but is authorative in representing negro folk lore and music at its best. Robert Jackson is was born in Kentucky and was a nephew of the late John H. Jackson, President of Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri. He is a former student and graduate of Lawrence High School as well as University of Kansas. At the present time he is the dean of Western University, Kansas City, Kansas, and head of the Department of Music. Mr. Jackson is the greatest organist of his race, a thorough musician and a great teacher and coach. He has played on almost every great organ in America, including those that were at San Francisco and San Diego during the respective World’s Fairs. The Jackson Jubilee Singers are the result of his vision and his work. It was his ambition and endeavor to bring to the people of America a really authentic program of all varieties of music peculiarly in the province of the negro.
Influences On Future
Jubilee Quartets had a large influences on many genres such as Rock and Roll and eventually Gospel Music. There manners of dress and singing influenced many future music groups like the O’Jays and the Supremes.
Jubilee Quartets derive from Negro Spiritual performed by slaves. This style of singing gave somber Negro Sprituals a more happy and varried sound. This style of sining influenced groups that I listened to a lot growing up like the O’Jays. African Americans are the back bone of American music and our ability to create and execute is unmatched.