Dark Midnight When I Rise : The Story of the Jubilee Singers Who Introduced the World to the Music of Black America by Andrew Ward
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The Jubilee Singers were nine former slaves, many of them in their teens, who set off from Nashville in the fall of 1871 to save Fisk University from collapse. For months they worked the old Underground Railway's network of abolitionist congregations, raising barely enough money to survive. They finally made it to New York City, where, under the sponsorship of Henry Ward Beecher, they caused a sensation, introducing Negro spirituals to thousands of whites who had never before heard authentic African American music. They toured not only the eastern United States but Britain and Europe, and raised what today would be millions of dollars. But they paid a terrible price. Touring killed one of them and destroyed the voices of several others. They faced discrimination on the road and ruthless exploitation at the hands of their missionary managers. The Jubilee Singers persevered and blazed a trail for such legendary black musicians as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin. A tale of courage, artistry, and exploitation, Dark Midnight When I Rise movingly recounts a remarkable piece of American history.


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