History of The Jubilee Quartet
African American Music is often noted for its religious aspects and the Jubilee quartet is no different. Jubilee quartet groups arose first half of the 20th century. The term “jubilee” meaning celebration or commemoration, came from one of the original quartet groups known as the Fisk Jubilee Singers who were organized at Fisk University in the early 1870’s. The singing style of harmonies and formal arrangements both blended in with Western musical styles and flourished in the black community.
The Five Blind Boys of Alabama
The gospel group was founded in 1939 in Talladega, Alabama and has featured a changing roster of musicians over its history, the majority of whom are or were visually impaired.
The Blind Boys found mainstream success following their appearance in the 1983 Obie Award-winning musical The Gospel at Colonus. Since then, the group has toured internationally and has performed and recorded with such artists as Prince, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt, Ben Harper, Bon Iver, and Amadou & Mariam. The group’s cover of the Tom Waitssong “Way Down in the Hole” was used as the theme song for the first season of the HBO series The Wire.
The Blind Boys have won five Grammy Awards in addition to being presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. They were endowed with a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994, they were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003 and they were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2010. The group was also invited to the White House during the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama administrations.
The Dixie Hummingbirds
An influential American gospel music group, spanning more than 80 years from the jubilee quartet style of the 1920s, through the “hard gospel” quartet style of gospel’s golden age in the 1940s and 1950s, to the eclectic pop-tinged songs of today. The Hummingbirds inspired a number of performers such as Jackie Wilson and James Brown, who adapted the shouting style and enthusiastic showmanship of hard gospel to secular themes to help create soul music in the 1960s.