Fisk Jubilee Singers

spiritual singers, Nashville

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2007)

Photo by Bill Steber


Immediately following the Civil War and Emancipation, Fisk University in Nashville was founded to address the mission of African American education.  Soon after, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were formed and began a long history of worldwide concert touring to raise funds for the university.  They adapted Negro spirituals—the religious folksongs of slavery—to a refined choral style, and through them championed the causes of African American dignity, social betterment, and civil rights.  Both musically and socially, this unique group had profound impact on American cultural history, and after more than 130 years they remain as active and important as ever.  In 2007, the Tennessee Arts Commission initiated an American Masterpieces project to celebrate the spirituals and the Fisk Jubilee Singers with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.  The project has involved Director Paul Kwami and his current group in educational and performance activities to enhance appreciation for their remarkable Tennessee legacy.


To see the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ profile in the 2007 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, go to:

Youtube addr for 2007 Gov Awd

For further reading, see:

The Fisk Jubilee Singers: Singing Our Song.  Nashville: Tennessee Arts Commission, 2007.  Click here to download.
Marsh, J.B.T.  The Story of the Jubilee Singers, Including Their Songs.  London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1898.
Seroff, Doug.  1988 Gospel Arts Day Nashville Program.  Nashville: Nashville Gospel Ministries, 1988.  Click here to download a copy.
-------.  1989 Gospel Arts Day Nashville Program.  Nashville: Nashville Gospel Ministries, 1989.  Click here to download a copy.
Ward, Andrew.  Dark Midnight When I Rise: the Story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. New York: Amistad, 2001.


Sacred Journey, Sunrise Music Group & Curb Records (CD & DVD, 2007)
Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory, PBS Home Video (VHS, 2005)
In Bright Mansions, Curb 78762 (CD, 2003).
Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory, PBS Home Video (DVD 2002?)
Rise, Shine! Fisk Jubilee Singers Live in Concert, Fisk University (CD, 2000)
Fisk Jubilee Singers, Vol. 1 (1909 – 1911), Document DOCD-5533 (CD reissue, 1997)
Fisk Jubilee Singers, Vol. 2 (1915 – 1920), Document DOCD-5534 (CD reissue, 1997)
Fisk Jubilee Singers ,Vol. 3 (1924 – 1940), Document DOCD-5535 (CD reissue, 1997)
American Spirituals: The Concert Tradition, Smithsonian Folkways SFW40072 (CD, 1994)
The Earliest Negro Vocal Groups, Vol. 5 (1911 – 1926), Document DOCD-5613 (CD reissue, 1997)
Fisk Jubilee Singers. Folkways FW02372 (CD reissue, 1955)