Review: Jubilee offers noteworthy performances

Jubilee  takes a look at the early years of the Fisk Jubilee Singers as they toured throughout the United States and internationally. But its not quite a simple story because Jubilee peels back the layers of the singers’ origin and unmasked the struggles they endured in an America, not quite ready to level the playing field along racial lines.

(L to R) Simone Paulwell (America Robinson), V. Savoy McIlwain (Thomas Rutling), Sean-Maurice Lynch (Frederick Loudin), Jaysen Wright (Edmund Watkins), Lisa Arrindell (Ella Sheppard) and Greg Watkins (Benjamin Holmes) (Photo:Margot Schulman)

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, were created not too longer shortly after the Civil War and as a new choir they set up  raising funds for Fisk University to make higher education available to African Americans.

Written and directed by Tazewell Thompson with musical arrangements and direction by Dianne Adams McDowell, the musical is filled with hymns and spIrituals, some long forgotten, but given new life in this musical tour de force. Songs like “Over My Head,” Didn’t My Lord Deliver,’ “Dem Bones,” may prove nostalgic for some and new to others.

Actress and singer Aundi Marie Moore as Maggie Porter is superb and her soaring  voice and her diva antics fall right in line with the historical Porter who was known as the diva” of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.  Moore gets it right.

L to R) Lisa Arrindell (Ella Sheppard), Jaysen Wright (Edmund Watkins), Katherine Alexis Thomas (Minnie Tate), Zonya Love (Georgia Gordon), Greg Watkins (Benjamin Holmes) and Shaleah Adkisson (Mabel Lewis). (Photo: Margot Schulman)

Jubilee, does an job of sharing the history of the Fisk university and the choir and also keeping the audience fully engaged.  the finale which recalls the fates of each singer is poignant and thought provoking and its fantastic that Jubilee chose to tell it.

Jubilee plays through June 9, 2019, presented by the Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street, SW, Washington, DC. For tickets, call (202) 488-3300 or go online.


Sarah Hearn
the authorSarah Hearn
Sarah Hearn is Editor-in-Chief of Sarah founded the site to serve as a positive platform for gospel music news, to share all of the good things happening within the Gospel and Christian music industry. In 2017, the site was named one of the Top 50 Gospel and Christian Music websites. Sarah is widely known for her on-the-scene reporting which includes the GMA Dove Awards, the Stellar Awards, Grammys on the Hill, Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration Concert, McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, St. Jude Celebration of Hope, the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference and many more. For more than 5 years, Sarah served as the DC Gospel Music Examiner at  where the site garnered more than 150,000 readers in the US and around the world. Sarah was named one of the Top Ten Heroes in Gospel Music in the Washington, DC area in 2012 for her extensive coverage, support and commitment to artists within the D.C. metro region.  In 2016 she was named Person of the Month by IndiMogul Magazine. The site was recently named among Feedspot's Top Gospel and Christian Music Websites.  Sarah is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Gospel Music Association.

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