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Toni Anderson, Music Historian, on
Becoming the Jubilee Singers

Toni Anderson How did they get their name?

Anderson : At one of their concerts in Ohio, they were really discouraged at this point. Again they had made enough money to finance the concert, to cover their expenses, but nothing to send home to Fisk. The students were very discouraged that night. And they had in the audience a well loved minister from the Nashville area. Reverend Bennett was in the audience that night, and he met with the students afterwards. They decided to pray about this situation, to see whether or not they should go home and call it quits. And after they prayed with Reverend Bennett, they felt a bit better. George White retired. He decided that he was going to stay up all night and pray about the future for the company. The next morning, he met the students after breakfast with what Ella Sheppard described as a glowing face, and announced to them all that he had been given a name for the company, and they were going to be called the Jubilee Singers. The name was taken from Chapter 25 of Leviticus, from the Bible, after the Jewish year of jubilee. The Jewish Year of Jubilee occurred every fiftieth year, and in the year of jubilee were provisions for debt relief, provisions for redemption of property, and for emancipation of slavery. And so George White felt that this was a fitting name for the group, for what they represented and for the grandeur and the sacredness of the name. The students loved it. And they gathered together and decided that yes, they should go on. So they endured. They kept going on.

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