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Nashville celebrates 150 years of the Fisk Jubilee Singers

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Posted at 9:17 PM, Nov 11, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — To honor their history as Nashville’s earliest ambassadors of music and to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ensemble, the Fisk Jubilee Singers hosted and perform at a benefit concert in the historic Ryman Auditorium.

Fisk Jubilee Singers celebrated this milestone through performances of their traditional repertoire of spirituals with a stacked lineup of talent including Jason Eskridge, Ruby Amanfu, Natalie Hemby, Brassville, Rissi Palmer, Kyla Jade, Tommy Sims, Starlito, Curt Chambers and Dr. Bobby Jones.

Marcia Dyson, founder of Women’s Global Institute, will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies. Shannon Sanders, the GRAMMY®, Emmy and Dove award-winning producer, will serve as co-musical director for the concert with Musical Director and Fisk Jubilee Singer Alumnus Dr. Paul T. Kwami.

"It’s finally time for Fisk and the city to recognize the role Fisk has played," said former Fisk Jubilee Singer Terrance Hurd.

For the past 150 years, these voices haven't just sung songs but they moved souls.

At the Ryman Auditorium, people showed up to hear the Grammy award-winning ensemble. It was all in an effort to raise more money to make sure the sounds of these singers continue.

A $1.5 million anonymous donation, one of the largest in the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ history, was gifted to the ensemble.

The donation will help to establish a permanent endowment named after Dr. Kwami and will provide a foundation to further support artistic projects and recruit future generations of extraordinary talent.

"One thing we want people to take away from tonight‘s concert is the fact that Fisk Jubilee Singers have established a very important form of American music," said Dr. Kwami. "Out of that music comes other forms of music, that is why we are presenting Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Country."

From singing in the church to singing and to singing in the "Mother Church" — the Fisk Jubilee singers will keep lifting their voices for another 150 years.

"We also want people to know that the students are not limited to singing Negro spirituals. We want people to know the kind of talent that this university has among our students," said Kwami.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers' official anniversary date was October 6.