NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The nonprofit Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) will present Walk Together Children: The 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a performance film featuring the multi-award-winning and world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers®, for free to student audiences April 29 – May 14 as part of its annual Season for Young People.
Created in collaboration with Musical Director Dr. Paul T. Kwami and producer/director Jon Royal, the film also will be available to the public for $20 via Vimeo On Demand during the same time with proceeds split between TPAC’s nonprofit mission and the Fisk Jubilee Singers Endowed Scholarship Fund.
In Walk Together Children: The 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Dr. Kwami and his current students pay tribute to the original nine members of the Fisk Jubilee Singers and reflect on their roles as students and preservers of this rich legacy. By exploring the personal stories of the trailblazers who paved the way for future generations of this world-renowned ensemble, they invite viewers to learn the significance of the Negro Spirituals and their values in today’s culture and share in the unique bond of this special choral ensemble. A dual concert event celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the film is also a call to action for the bright future ahead for Fisk University and all of Nashville.
TPAC, which has presented in-person performances by the Fisk Jubilee Singers to more than 10,000 students over 14 years, expects 20,000 middle and high school students across Tennessee to view the film during the two-week availability.
“TPAC is proud of its arts partnership with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and we’re honored to join the 150th Anniversary celebration for this Nashville and national treasure,” says Jennifer Turner, TPAC President and CEO. “Pivoting to filmed performances and virtual arts presentations during the shutdown provides a unique opportunity to share the rich history and exceptional artistry of the Fisk Jubilee Singers with a broader audience.”
“Our collaboration with Tennessee Performing Arts Center is the longest educational program we’ve had during my tenure as Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers,” says Dr. Kwami. “The filming and distribution of this project now enables us to share our rich history and unique music with people around the globe. My students and I are very grateful to Roberta Ciuffo-West and her staff for donating the beautiful costumes to the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Our song, ‘The Blessing’ remains our eternal expression of gratitude to TPAC. A bright future is ahead of our institutions as we thrive and enrich lives through the arts.”
In addition to commemorating the 150th Anniversary of their founding with a year-long celebration of events, the world-renowned choral ensemble is celebrating its 2021 GRAMMY® for Best Roots Gospel Album for their recently released album, “Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album),” produced with Curb Records.
The album is a collection of 12 songs that beautifully represent the powerful and vibrant history of Fisk University and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. It features the ensemble performing from the stage of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium with guest appearances by Ruby Amanfu, Keb’ Mo’, CeCe Winans and more.
Walk Together Children: The 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers is supported by TPAC Champion Partners Amazon and Bank of America as well as Enterprise Solutions and Delta Dental of Tennessee.
“The story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers is deeply intertwined with Nashville’s history and its distinctive role as a music and cultural capital,” says Courtney Ross, Amazon’s Nashville Senior Manager of External Affairs. “Amazon has received such a warm welcome from our neighbors as we have continued to grow here in Music City. We’re excited to have the opportunity to give back by furthering our investment in the arts and helping share the Fisk Jubilee Singers with new audiences by supporting the release of the film.”
“Bank of America is thrilled to help TPAC capture and preserve the talents of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in this new performance film,” said Tyson Moore, President, Bank of America Nashville. “This is one of many ways Bank of America is committing $1.25 billion over the next five years to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. We appreciate TPAC’s commitment to equality in the arts and look forward to sharing the voices of the Fisk Jubilee Singers with audiences far and wide.”
Walk Together Children: The 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers is produced by Jon Royal and Dona Spangler and features narration by Persephone Felder-Fentress and costume design by Loretta Harper. The film features script and creative direction by Dr. Kwami for the development and teaching of the “Portrait concept.”
The current Fisk Jubilee Singers include Eren Brooks, Jeffrey Casey, Allen Christian ‘19, Andrew Davis, Kennedi Hall, Trinity Hervey, Kemani Iwu, Dejuan Jackson, Jr., Kristen Oguno, Arianna Okhuozagbon, Hezekiah Robinson, Micah Showers, Jada Spight, Cortney Towns and Tory Westbrook. Not appearing in the film are Chelseai Cunningham and Anthony Kennedy.
Songs featured in the film include: “Done Made My Vow” (Arr. John W. Work III), “Talk About A Child” (Arr. William L. Dawson), “Run, Mourner Run” (Arr. John W. Work III), “Down by the Riverside” (Arr. Paul T. Kwami), “Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham” (Arr. John W. Work III), “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (Arr. Paul T. Kwami), “Heav’n, Heav’n” (Arr. H. T. Burleigh), “Rockin’ Jerusalem” (Arr. John W. Work III) and “Walk Together, Children” (Arr. Moses Hogan).