The Jubilee Singers, a trail-blazing troupe of former slaves who introduced the world to the music of black gospel America, are profiled in this moving account of courage, artistry, and exploitation. of photos.
"The Jubilee Singers are an integral part of the history of black music in this country. The singers began as a group of nine former slaves determined to save Fisk College in Nashville, Tennessee, from closure. The Jubilee Singers grew to become a world-class performing choir. These teenagers not only took their music on the road in an effort to do a noble good but also, in the process, exposed and educated whites about black music and Negro spirituals. The courage and dedication of the group members as they traveled across the country as well as Europe is not only their story but also an incredible saga in American history. The group's story begins in 1851 and continues through 1903 in three carefully composed parts. Ward has done a masterful job of researching and presenting a long, uncut version of this group's beginnings, hardships, and triumphs. This book is sure to be a notable addition to African American library collections. --Lillian Lewis"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In the fall of 1871, while the country was reeling from the effects of the Civil War, a choir of former slaves and freedmen took to the road to raise money for their school, Fisk University, which was near financial collapse. Under the direction of George White, a white missionary who was Fisk's treasurer and self-appointed choirmaster, the group traveled north, performing Negro spirituals. At first they encountered only ridicule, prejudice and physical hardship, and the venture seemed so surely headed for disaster that one alarmed father called his daughter home. But when the remaining singers reached New York City, the flamboyant abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher took up their cause, and the Jubilee Singers began to enjoy stupendous success. They traveled throughout the eastern U.S. and Europe, performing in churches, concert halls and the homes of the elite, astonishing audiences with moving renditions of plantation hymns, which most whites had never heard before. Ward (Our Bones Are Scattered) describes the Singers' three grueling tours, providing intimate portraits of each member of the group as well as their famous patrons and the besieged administrators and teachers back home at Fisk. In the process, he creates a vivid picture of the plight of blacks during and after the Civil War and shows how deeply whites opposed education for Negroes. At times, Ward's history may strike readers as overly detailed, but exhaustive factual accounts are relieved by quotations from the singers' own eloquently recorded impressions. The book is a fascinating tribute to a group of enterprising young men and women whose dignity and courage Ward calls "a constellation in the dark midnight from which they rose." Photos not seen by PW. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved