Jubilee Voices

Andrea Jones Blackford, Director

Washington Revels Jubilee Voices

On July 31, 2010, the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices held its first rehearsal, kickstarting a 10-year journey that would see this wonderful ensemble perform at venues, festivals and heritage sites throughout DC, Maryland and Virginia, and featuring frequent appearances on television and in the local news media.

To mark this milestone, we’re devoting the entire month of July to a series of events: song leading during the “Daily Antidote of Song,” social media features, spotlights on the singers, and more! “Jubilee July” will highlight memories from favorite performances over the past 10 years and culminate in a live virtual celebration on Friday, July 31st.

Learn more about Jubilee Voices


For July 4th, and the first Saturday presentation of our “Jubilee July” anniversary month, Jubilee Voices bass soloist Harold Blackford gave a stirring reading of Frederick Douglass’s 1852 Independence Day address in Rochester, New York, in which Douglass charged the United States to consider the paradox of celebrating freedom while benefiting from enslaved laborers.

Learn more about Douglass’s speech and find a link to the full text in this blog post by Jubilee Voices Director, Andrea Jones Blackford.

How to Celebrate

Watch for daily highlights on the Washington Revels Facebook page, Wednesday features during the “Daily Antidote of Song,” and a big celebration on July 31.

Jubilee Voices performing at the Frederick Douglass House in Washington, DC

The Washington Revels Jubilee Voices ensemble is committed to the preservation of African-American history and traditions–presenting songs and stories of struggle and perseverance, trials and triumphs, as expressed through a cappella music, drama and dance. Inaugurated in 2010, the group now performs regularly at heritage sites throughout the Washington DC area, singing, sharing, and learning the stories of the people in those communities.

Along with the music, Jubilee Voices also explores the poetry and writings of the period, along with first- and third-person portrayals of African Americans whose stories are a vital contribution to American history. Performances are suitable for sites of significance to African American history as well as general programming for non-African American specific sites.

Read an article, “From Spiritual to Freedom Song: Tracing the Road to Freedom through Music,” by Jubilee Voices director, Andrea Jones Blackford.

Upcoming Jubilee Voices Events

  • July 31 - Jubilee Voices 10th Anniversary Celebration
    July 31 – Jubilee Voices 10th Anniversary Celebration
    Don’t miss “Jubilee July’s” Finale! On Friday, July 31, the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices marks 10 years since its first rehearsal in 2010. All this month we’ve been celebrating “Jubilee July,” and we’re bringing the fun to a festive close with a special virtual anniversary event! Join...
    Get Event Details

At the core of Jubilee Voices are the singers. In this primarily a cappella group, each singer is auditioned and through rehearsal and group sharing their unique and authentic sound is achieved.  Most singers also present spoken word and participate as soloists.

Kadija Ash
Jackie Berry
Andrea Blackford
Harold Blackford
Christina Bussie
Sharon Clark-Napolitano
Brandi Collins
David Fakunle
Paulette Grady
Margo Hall
Jim Harkless
Phyllis Henderson
Cheryl Lane
Arthuretta Martin
Greg McGruder
Keith Moore

Debbie Vaughan

Past Members:
Dolet, Tia; Azie Dungee; Giordano Hardy-Gerena; Yvette Malcioln; Laia Rufaro; Kelly Williams; Vanessa Williams, Ronald Woodland

Jubilee Voices presents a wide and varied repertoire of music, emphasizing three themes significant to the Civil War era:

  • African American Folk Songs and Spirituals, featuring shouts, hollers, poetry and readings. Spirituals include laments that convey the anguish of the “auction block” days and songs of strength and determination in the face of adversity.
  • Songs of Struggle and Freedom from the life of the enslaved and the quest for freedom, featuring code songs, signals, shouts, stories, and Underground Railroad lore.
  • 19th-Century Agricultural Life from an African American cultural perspective, featuring field calls, ring shouts, planting songs, children’s songs and games, and seasonal songs.

“…Stunning, poignant — the perfect capstone of our three day series… quite simply sensational.”
–Mary Ann Brownlow, Special Programs Producer, Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital

“I saw your program at Surratt House and want to let you know I thought it amazing, most entertaining, thought provoking, educational and poignant. The players really took one back to the awful days of slavery and then to the happy days of freedom. Everyone should see this presentation by the Jubilee Voices, they were grand.” —Joan L. Chaconas, History Specialist, Surratt House Museum, Clinton, MD

Thank you very much for being with us on Heritage Day. The feedback about your presentation was amazing, the concert at Sugarland was the topic of conversation in many of our neighboring black communities, especially by those who were not present wishing that they had attended after listening to those that were. Those that did attend were in awe. We received comments by many that they felt an overwhelming sense of bonding with the ancestors. The most quoted statement of the evening was, ”absolutely awesome, I love them,” another said, “I have never experienced anything like this before,” one said that she felt “spellbound.”One quote was, “watching and listening to the slave girl was mesmerizing.” Many expressed interest in learning more about your organization and the Jubilee Voices. –Gwendora Reese, St. Paul Community Church/Sugarland, Poolesville, MD

Jubilee Voices at Lincoln Cottage
Greg McGruder leading a song with Jubilee Voices at Lincoln’s Cottage.
Jubilee Voices at the Surratt House
Jubilee Voices Performing at the Surratt House Museum.
Freedmen's Cemetary in Alexandria
Andrea Blackford leading Jubilee Voices at the opening of the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.
Jubilee Voices at the Friendship Heights concert series
Harold Blackford leading a song with Jubilee Voices.
Greg McGruder leading a song at Oakely Cabin
Greg McGruder leading a song with Jubilee Voices at Oakley Cabin.
Jubilee Voices performing at the Frederick Douglass House in Washington, DC
Jubilee Voices performing on the steps of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, DC.

For more information about Washington Revels Jubilee Voices, and to explore hosting a performance at your site, contact Colin Bills at cbills@revelsdc.org.