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Toni Anderson, Music Historian, on
The need for money

Toni Anderson Anderson : The further in debt Fisk University got, the more sure George White became that taking his choir out to sing was a good idea. The AMA, of course, was not very supportive of George White’s idea. It was very novel. You have to understand that during this time, singing groups did not appear in church. That was a new idea. Secondly, George White wanted to target mainly white Christian audiences. And generally, the audiences he was going to be searching for were the same audiences that the AMA already appealed to for support. So there was a bit of a conflict of interest. The same audience would have to support the Jubilee Singers as well as give to the AMA. And AMA officials were a bit reluctant about the whole idea.

Black singers did not appear on stage during this era, except in the minstrel show. And the minstrel show was a very stereotypical and derogatory image of African Americans. Good upstanding Christian people did not go to these kinds of entertainments.

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