The Revitalization of Music Through the Jubilee Quartets

In The Beginning

Music began as a mode of communication and self-expression and as time continues to progress, it becomes a more revitalized form of art. The Fisk Jubilee Singers is a choir that originated at Fisk University which went on to perform melodies at varieties of venues in the United States as well as Europe. The quartets focus more on the complete and separated sounds of the choir instead of the soloist(s) who are usually praised for their moments of individual improvisation. As I personally see it, universities highlight this ‘quartet’ signature more so than churches. There is a progressive change that occurs regarding music in the 1800s. Unified sounds are highlighted and recognized for the beauty they are instead of a series of background tunes to give a spotlight to these soloists.

Today's Jubilee Singers Presence

The Spelman Glee Club highlights the voices of their choir as a unit more so than individuals. Yes, there are soloists who guide of accompany the direction of the choir, but the glee club is seen as a whole group. Although gospel music embodies negro spirituals as well as secular folk music, the jubilee quartets are seen throughout choirs in churches as well as recording choirs. For example, Kirk Franklin and The Family created a song titled Revolution which exemplifies similar modes of expression through music just like the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Zion Harmonizers, Fairfield Four, The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, etc. Their sound is noticed as a unit more so than any individual artist. There are moments of call and response, but the melodies, tempos and tones that are used are highlighted whether it be in addition to hand clapping, stomping, personal sound effects or whatsoever.

These components of the ‘Fisk Jubilee Singers’ are still being used to today and they will continue to be modified and changed. I personally believe they are vital to the history of African American music and the value it plays in society to this very day. Without the role of the Jubilee Quartet, I am absolutely sure that I would not depend on music to help me through my days the way that it does currently.

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