A historic ensemble comes to the historic Attucks Theater in Norfolk this Sunday, March 18 at 3:00 pm.
Fisk University was established in 1866, only six months after the end of the Civil War, to “educate freed slaves.”
The first group of Fisk Jubilee Singers was formed in 1871. All but two were former slaves. They began touring the country to raise money for their school. This first group of Jubilee Singers are credited with exposing the general public to the tradition of Negro spirituals that were mostly unknown, especially in the North.
Legend has it that the Fisk Jubilee Singers gave Nashville its nickname, Music City U.S.A. The group traveled to Europe and Great Britain in 1873 and sang for Queen Victoria. The Queen was thrilled with the beautiful voices and the spiritual songs. She declared that the group must have come from “the Music City of the United States.”
Today’s Fisk Jubilee Singers carry on the tradition. “We stand on the shoulders of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers, continuing their legacy, as we sing Negro spirituals,” they say. The group has been inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame and are recipients of the 2008 National Medal of Arts, “the nation’s highest honor for artists and patrons on the arts.”
The historic Attucks Theater will be celebrating its 100th year of entertainment in 2019. It was “financed, designed and constructed by African American entrepreneurs” in 1919. It is named in honor of Crispus Attucks, the first American killed in the Revolutionary War.
The Attucks Theater was known as the “Apollo Theater of the South.” Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Portsmouth’s own Ruth Brown and many other world renowned artists have performed on the Attucks stage. It is now owned by the city of Norfolk and it formally known as the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center. The Attucks was restored to its former glory in 2004. There is not a bad seat in the house in this charming, small theater.
American Evolution 2019 sponsors the Virginia Arts Festival presentation of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. American Evolution commemorates the 400th anniversary of key historical events that occurred in Virginia in 1619 that “continue to influence American democracy, diversity and opportunity.” This organization is sponsoring several of this year’s VAF performances that “explore the influences of English, Native American and African cultures on modern society,” including the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia International Tattoo.
Get your tickets to see the historic Fisk Jubilee Singers, singing “uniquely American Negro spirituals” at the historic Attucks Theater this Sunday, March 18 at 3:00.