NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Fisk University is mourning the loss of Dr. Paul Theophilus Kwami, the beloved Fisk Jubliee Singers Musical Director.
Dr. Kwami passed away surrounded by family on Friday, September 10, according to a statement put out by his loved ones.
"To know him was to love, respect and cherish him," the family said. "A natural born mentor, he gave of himself freely to those he cared for and invested in the lives of many with a joyful heart."
Fisk University acknowledged the passing of Dr. Kwami with a statement on Twitter Saturday night.
With profound grief and heavy hearts, we deeply regret to inform the passing of Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers®, Dr. Paul T. Kwami. pic.twitter.com/ATnLip0FYy— Fisk University (@Fisk1866) September 11, 2022
Nashville Mayor John Cooper also expressed his condolences on Kwami's passing.
Laura and I offer our deepest condolences to Dr. Kwami's family, friends & @Fisk1866 community. Through his unmatched musicianship, Dr. Kwami led & fostered the talents of the renowned @FiskJubilee singers for nearly 30 years. Grateful for his historic contributions to Nashville. pic.twitter.com/QJmQFdQA3z
— Mayor John Cooper (@JohnCooper4Nash) September 12, 2022
Dr. Kwami immigrated to the United States in 1983 from Ghana, West Africa, when he began studying at Fisk University.
He joined the Fisk Jubilee Singers shortly after he began attending the school.
He graduated from the university in 1986 and went on to continue his musical studies at Western Michigan University, where he earned his Masters of Music degree.
He began serving the Fisk Jubilee Singers as the part-time director in 1994 before he joined the university's music department as a full-time faculty member. Dr. Kwami later became the Musical Director for the group, a position he would go on to hold for nearly 30 years.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers have spread joy through the love of music for over 150 years. NewsChannel 5 spoke with Dr. Kwami in April 2022 after a rare discovery was made of the oldest recording of the ensemble.
In 2021 the group made history after winning a Grammy award for their 150th-anniversary album, "Celebrating Fisk."
Ryman Auditorium expressed their grief in a series of tweets.
A former student of @Fisk1866, and a performer in the group himself, Dr. Kwami fully embraced the mission of preserving the gospel sound that once inspired the England's Queen Victoria to declare Nashville a "Music City" over 140 years ago.— Ryman Auditorium (@theryman) September 12, 2022
Funeral arrangements for Dr. Kwami will be announced in the coming days. As arrangements are made, his family asks for privacy during this time of grieving.