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Tue, 10.06.1857

Minnie Tate, Choral Singer born

Minnie Tate

*The birth of Minnie Tate is celebrated on this date in 1857. She was a choral singer and was the youngest original member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Minnie Tate was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the daughter of Andrew L. Tate and Adelle A. Livingston Tate. Her grandmother, Dicey Tanner, and mother, Adelle, were freed from enslavement in Mississippi and migrated north. Tate's mother was a teacher. Tate enrolled in what was then the Fisk Free Colored School. Tate and Eliza Walker were the youngest members of the Fisk Jubilee Singers when it first formed in 1871; both were fourteen years old that year.

Her "sweet, clear voice" was showcased in the song "Flee as a Bird" in their performances. The Jubilee Singers performed Black spirituals. They also sang songs by white composer Stephen Foster. Their performances raised money for Fisk and eventually paid for Jubilee Hall on the Nashville campus.

She was the youngest of the group when they toured Great Britain, Holland, and Germany. They sang for Queen Victoria, Ulysses S. GrantHenry Ward BeecherMark Twain, and Dwight L. Moody. The physical strain of that tour made Minnie Tate give up professional singing upon her return to the United States.

In 1880, she and fellow Jubilee Singer Georgia Gordon sang a duet at an event marking the ninth anniversary of the group's formation. She married a fellow singer, R. A. Hall; they had a son, Roger. She was widowed in 1886. Minnie Tate died on April 29, 1899, in her early forties, in Nashville. In 1978, Tate and the other original members of the Fisk Jubilee Singers were granted posthumous honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Fisk University. It is traditional for current Fisk Jubilee Singers to sing and place a wreath of magnolia leaves at the Nashville grave of Minnie Tate every year.

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Reference:

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