The Joyous Jubilee Quartet

Who was the Jubilee Quartet?

The Jubilee Quartet originates from Norfolk, Virginia. They come on to the scene in about 1931. The group consists of four members who attended Booker T. Washington High School. The members of this included Willie Johnson, William Landford, Henry Owens, and Orlandus Wilson.

The beginning of the Jubilee Quartet

This group started in the early 1930s and performed in churches and radio stations in the area. They began as a jubilee quartet, but as time went on they began to include other genres of music such as jazz and blues. They were influenced by the Mills brothers. With their wonderful combination of voices they were able to create a unique sound. Each member had their talents and was able to engage the crowd in their own particular way.

The heights of their career

They are off to a great start over the years, and during the 1940s they are awarded the opportunity to sign with Columbia Records. During this time they also changed their group name to a shorter name. they were awarded the opportunity to sing at Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1941. They were the first black group to have this accomplishment. They are also awarded the opportunity to be featured in films singing. Two members left to go serve in the war and this effected the group. They could not stay down for to long in 1955, they revived their career by touring in Europe. Now they are still somewhat based out of Europe.

Songs of the Jubilee Quartet

Commodification of the Jubilee Quartet

It is hard to find how much money the Golden Quartet was making. Although this is unknown they made a musical impact. They perfomred on radio sations and huge events that many groups will never get to say they had the opportunity to do so. As time went on, they ventured to Hollywood. They would be forced to sing back ground to white singers. This shows they enjoyed their voices, but did not want them to be the star of a song or show. 

Awards and recognition of the Jubilee Quartet

The Golden Gate Quartet was inducted into The Vocal Group of Hall of Fame in 1998.

Musician Paul Simon used excerpts from their 1938 recording of “Golden Gate Gospel Train” to mix into the song “Love & Blessings”. In addition, the group’s music was also featured in the video game Battlefield Bad Company.


Prior to taking this class I had never heard of this quartet before. It was interesting to learn that one of the members is the late father of my professor. They were in interesting to learn about because as suppose as to just researching information online I had a first-hand resource. This group was one of a kind and was very unique.


Golden Gate Quartet

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