Inspired by the 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers® and the opportunity to share the ensemble’s artistic and cultural significance. Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) and Nashville Public Television (WNPT), are partnering to distribute Walk Together Children: The 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers through PBS member stations across the country this fall.
Walk Together Children will premiere in Nashville on NPT at 9 p.m. CT on Sunday, Oct. 3, ahead of the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ “Jubilee Day” celebration on Oct. 6. The national distribution includes broadcasts on 33 PBS member stations in 19 states markets in October and November. Please check your local listings for additional broadcast information.
In Walk Together Children, Dr. Paul T. Kwami and his students pay tribute to the original nine members of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, organized as a choral ensemble in 1871 to perform and raise money to support Fisk University. As the current singers explore the personal stories of the trailblazers who paved the way for future generations, they reflect on their roles as students and preservers of the world-renowned choral group’s legacy. Inviting viewers to share in their unique bond and learn the significance of the Negro Spirituals and their value in today’s culture, the film is a dual concert event celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers and a call to action for the bright future ahead for Fisk University and all of Nashville.
“The legacy and exceptional artistry of the Fisk Jubilee Singers are at the heart and soul of Nashville. We are incredibly proud of our arts partnership with the Fisk Jubilee Singers over the last 14 years, and we’re honored to support this ensemble’s 150th Anniversary celebration by sharing their performance and history with audiences throughout Tennessee and beyond,” said Jennifer Turner, TPAC President and CEO. “Pivoting to filmed performances and virtual arts presentations during the pandemic provided an opportunity to showcase these wonderful artists, and with the additional help from Nashville Public Television, we can extend the celebration of this national treasure even farther.”
“It is very exciting to see the collaboration between Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the Fisk Jubilee Singers develop beautifully into the production of Walk Together Children: The 150th Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers,” says Dr. Paul T. Kwami, D.M.A., Fisk Jubilee Singers Musical Director. “The film tells the stories of the nine original Fisk Jubilee Singers, and I am thrilled that we honor them through this film and salute the generations of Fisk Jubilee Singers and their directors. Our collaboration will continue to benefit school children globally through our educational offerings.”
“Nashville Public Television is thrilled to be involved with this beautiful film celebrating such an important part of Nashville’s history,” said Becky Magura, NPT’s President and CEO. “It’s an honor to share the legacy of the Fisk Jubilee Singers with a national audience on PBS. NPT is committed to shining a light on the rich history and achievements of Nashville’s Black community as well as the critical role HBCU’s have played in the history of our city. All of us at NPT congratulate the Fisk Jubilee Singers on their 150th Anniversary.”
Created in collaboration with Dr. Kwami and producer/director Jon Royal, Walk Together Children was produced by TPAC for student audiences as part of its annual Season for Young People and supported by contributions from Amazon, Bank of America, Enterprise Solutions, and Delta Dental of Tennessee. The national distribution of Walk Together Children is further supported by HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health and Curb Records.
Through a partnership with Nashville Public Television, the film is reformatted for public broadcast to include historical context about the celebrated cultural legacy of the Fisk Jubilee Singers and their contributions to preserving the unique musical tradition of Negro spirituals for a nationwide audience.
Walk Together Children features costume design by Loretta Harper and script and creative direction by Dr. Kwami for the development and teaching of the “Portrait concept.”
TPAC will host a virtual panel discussion of Walk Together Children at 12 p.m. CT on Monday, Oct. 4 as part of its InsideOut program. The discussion, sponsored by Vanderbilt University’s Office of Community Relations, will include Fisk Jubilee Singers Musical Director Dr. Kwami, Fisk University Executive Vice President Dr. Jens Frederiksen, film director Jon Royal, WNPT’s Program Manager Jessica Turk, TPAC’s Executive Vice President of Education & Community Engagement Roberta Ciuffo-West and Fisk University graduate Ariana Okhuozagbon. The event will share excerpts from the film and discuss the history of the ensemble.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers® have played an essential role in introducing and sharing the tradition of the Negro spiritual with the world. This remarkable ensemble has traveled the world singing sacred songs and raising funds to support Fisk University for the past 150 years. Today, the ensemble continues to perform globally and is comprised of Fisk University students who are selected annually through an audition process. The ensemble has been inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In 2008, the Fisk Jubilee Singers® were also awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest artistic honor by President George W. Bush. Most recently, the Fisk Jubilee Singers won a 2021 GRAMMY® for Best Roots Gospel Album for “Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album).”