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Fri, 10.06.1871

The Fisk Jubilee Singers are Formed

Fisk Jubilee Singers Program

*The founding of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1871 occurred on this date. These Black student singers were talented emancipated slaves who toured to raise funds for their school, Fisk University.

Their founding coincided with their first trip as a touring gospel choir. They were also formed to introduce to the world the beauty of the songs of a people, Black people. Their songs told of an unvoiced longing for a more authentic world where people were free from rejection, disappointment, and sorrow. George L. White led the Jubilee Singers. Originally they consisted of four Black men and five Black women. The five original women (pictured) were Ella Sheppard, Maggie L. Porter (seated left and center), Minnie Tate, Jennie Jackson (standing right), and Eliza Walker.

In 1871, the Jubilee Singers began a successful singing tour to save Fisk School from imminent closing for financial reasons. They toured America, England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, and Switzerland, bringing back 50,000 dollars to save Fisk School and found Fisk University.  Most universities celebrate "Founders Day," but Fisk celebrates "Jubilee Day." It's a grand affair with a gathering and a pilgrimage to the graves of the original jubilee singers, where the new jubilee singers for the year are introduced and wreathed of magnolia leaves from the campus are placed on their graves.

To Become a Musician or Singer


Fisk Jubilee

Fisk University
1000 Seventeenth Ave. North,
Nashville, TN 37208-3051.

Philippe Andal and Lecia Allman

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