cover of book

Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry
by Sandra Jean Graham
University of Illinois Press, 2018
Paper: 978-0-252-08327-3 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05030-5 | Cloth: 978-0-252-04163-1
Library of Congress Classification ML3556.G77 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 782.2530973

Spirituals performed by jubilee troupes became a sensation in post-Civil War America. First brought to the stage by choral ensembles like the Fisk Jubilee Singers, spirituals anchored a wide range of late nineteenth-century entertainments, including minstrelsy, variety, and plays by both black and white companies. In the first book-length treatment of postbellum spirituals in theatrical entertainments, Sandra Jean Graham mines a trove of resources to chart the spiritual's journey from the private lives of slaves to the concert stage. Graham navigates the conflicting agendas of those who, in adapting spirituals for their own ends, sold conceptions of racial identity to their patrons. In so doing they lay the foundation for a black entertainment industry whose artistic, financial, and cultural practices extended into the twentieth century. A companion website contains jubilee troupe personnel, recordings, and profiles of 85 jubilee groups. Please go to:

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