Andrea Jones Blackford, Director
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.
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