By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — The Fisk Jubilee Singers just wrapped up their first Bluebird Café performance Feb. 22 and will travel to Carnegie Hall March 19 to perform on the main stage for the first time, representatives announced in a press release.
Though the 16-member Jubilee Singers have performed at Carnegie Hall, this will be their first time performing in the main auditorium, said Dr. Paul T. Kwami, Fisk’s music director.
The Jubilee Singers will perform their setlist in a combined ensemble including choral students from Harpeth Hall and Montgomery Bell Academy on the Stern Auditorium Perelman Stage. Dr. Kwami will conduct the combined ensemble.
The Carnegie Hall setlist includes Kekeli Tso Kekeli Me, which means “Light is the source of light” and was composed by T.W. Kwami, the father of Dr. Kwami, as well as Negro spirituals such as Listen to the Lambs and My God is a Rock, according to a press release from Harpeth Hall.
Recently Harpeth Hall’s chamber choir won a superior rating at the Middle Tennessee Vocal Association’s High School Choral Festival, recognized for their tone, technique, interpretation, musical effect and artistry, school representatives said.
The Carnegie Hall performance is part of a show by MidAmerica Productions.
“Music making not only enriches our lives, but also brings comfort and joy to the community that we are in,” said Harpeth Hall Chamber Choir Director Esther Ting, who also sings professionally with Yale Camerata of the Institute of Sacred Music, Atlanta Chamber Choir, and BachFest Malaysia.
The Jubilee Singers have been quite busy lately—In addition to their first performance at the iconic Bluebird Café, the ensemble recently performed the national anthem at an L.A. Lakers game Feb. 5 in their first NBA performance.
Last year, the Singers won their first GRAMMY award for Best Roots Gospel Album for Celebrating Fisk! The 150th Anniversary Album. The Singers had been nominated for two GRAMMY Awards previously and have won a Dove Award.
*The original Fisk Jubilee Singers ensemble introduced the Negro spiritual to the world in 1871 as they traveled and raised money for Fisk University. Under the direction of Dr. Kwami, the Singers continue to honor that legacy.
The Jubilee Singers have performed at The Kennedy Center, the White House and the Ryman Auditorium and are members of the Music City Walk of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the GRAMMY Hall of Fame, and the Academy of Country Music.
In 2008, they were awarded a National Medal of Arts by former President George W. Bush. That medal was received by Dr. Kwami.
The ensemble has collaborated with top artists like CeCe Winans, Keb’ Mo’, Shania Twain, India.Arie, The Fairfield Four and Rodney Atkins, representatives said.
Harpeth Hall’s Cori Magsby is thrilled at the opportunity. “I’ve been preparing for this moment,” the senior said.
She’s been singing in choirs all throughout her life, and though she’s excited and a little bit nervous she keeps her cool. “I have to remember I’ve worked so hard to get here and don’t let the excitement get in the way,” she said.
If you want to see the NYC performance but can’t make the trip, the students will perform March 27 at Covenant Presbyterian at 3:30 p.m. to showcase their Carnegie Hall performance.