Fisk Jubilee Singers win first Grammy Award for 150th anniversary album

Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 18:05:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Fisk Jubilee Singers won their first-ever Grammy award.

Several people and organizations have chimed in to celebrate this win, including the Tennessee Titans and Governor Bill Lee.

It's a moment decades in the making. The Fisk Jubilee Singers took home the award for the "Best Roots Gospel Album" for their 150th anniversary album called "Celebrating Fisk."

"I was so shocked but so happy and excited," said singer Kierra Pryor.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers was founded in 1871. The a cappella ensemble performs songs that were sung by slaves prior to the Civil War.

"It's so important not just because of the music but the meaning behind the songs," said Pryor. "The majority of the songs really focus on maintaining faith and trust in God and believe things will get better or some type of resolution."

These songs are still prevalent today as conversations surrounding race inequality continue, but musical director Dr. Paul Kwami says music can bring people together. He's been leading the group since 1994.

"When I think about the original singers they had experiences that were very difficult but they didn't give up, they used their music to change their world," Kwami said. "I know people like to go out fight and physically destroy things but we can express our love through music."

The winning album was recorded live at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.

"What I'm excited about is the future," said singer Dwayne Mitchell. "The world can see the legacy and history of the group and institution, and now we can work on how to continue to pass these traditions down."

The Jubilee Singers are holding their first lecture Tuesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. Central. It's for their 3-part-series to celebrate the 150th anniversary. The event is virtual and free.

If you want to register, click here.