Negro Spirituals feat. Fisk Jubilee Singers

Negro Spirituals feat. Fisk Jubilee Singers

Laura Beth Peters and Lainie Stubblefield
Negro Spirituals consist of a set of songs that were created by slaves during their time of slavery and were sung from spirit to Spirit. They carry messages from God to us, and today we can still build inspiration from these songs. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are an American a cappella ensemble that performs Negro spirituals originally sung by slaves prior to the Civil War. The first group of Singers arranged the music and took it on the road beginning in 1871 introducing the public to a new genre that remains a vibrant musical tradition today. We had the chance to speak with Dr. Paul T. Kwami, Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Kwami was born in Ghana, West Africa, one of seven children. His father, a musician, taught him piano, violin, theory, and conducting. He studied music at Ghana’s National Academy of Music and taught there until immigrating to the US in 1983 as a student at Fisk University. He promptly joined the Fisk Jubilee Singers.After graduating Fisk in 1985 he continued to study music at Western Michigan University and graduated in 1987 with the Master of Music degree. In the spring of 1994 he was solicited to serve as part-time director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. In the fall of the same year, he was promoted to full time faculty member in the music department and became the Musical Director of the ensemble. He is the first African to direct the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and the first to hold the Curb-Beaman Chair position. He is currently the Mike Curb Jubilee Singers Endowed Chair. Kwami received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the American Conservatory of Music. Kwami, a composer and arranger, feels a deep connection between Negro spirituals and the music of his Motherland. “The music we sing today helps to bridge the gap between Africans and African-Americans,” he says. “I am reminded of my life in Ghana whenever I hear the Fisk Jubilee Singers sing the Negro spirituals.” As the Fisk Jubilee Singers are celebrating 150 years this year, we thought this was the perfect time to cover this topic. Check out the Grammy-award winning album here: https://amzn.to/3w3Vh4X __