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Songs of Freedom by the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Fisk Singers from Pike 1875 (2).jpg

A group of 100 singers from Hull Freedom Chorus and beyond come together on 5 November to honour and celebrate the legacy of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in performances in Hull Minster and the City Centre.


In the early 1870s, the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville toured Europe, singing the songs they had learned in the forced servitude of their people. Most of them teenagers and former slaves, they toured to raise money for the survival of their new educational institution, now Fisk University. They toured Europe and sang for the aristocracy of England. One of the places they toured was Hull, native city of slavery abolitionist, William Wilberforce, where they received a warm welcome.

In August 1873 the Fisk Jubilee Singers visited Hull for the first time, giving performances in local venues. They stayed in The Cross Keys hotel, Market Place. One Sunday evening, the singers were sitting in their hotel room “witnessing the throngs of people flowing like a tide of life up and down in front of King William’s monument” when group leader George White decided that the troupe should go out and sing a few songs to the “wandering crowd.”. The group arranged themselves in front of the monument and sang for the poor people of Hull. Read more


Singing songs of Freedom – Free performances

Michael Harper

Michael Harper

On Sunday 5 November, singing leader Michael Harper, will lead a 100 strong group of singers in songs which explore the creativity of these most influential musicians who changed the face and sound of western music. The performances will honour, preserve and continue connection with Fisk Jubilee Singers, raise awareness of their legacy and provide the opportunity to hear the beautiful music they brought to Hull on their visits in the 1870s, and songs which were influenced by them, including Gospel music.

These songs nurtured and supported the culture of African Americans and other cultures around the world through their simple beauty and affect. They have been used as a symbol of emergence from oppression by many revolutionary movements around the world. Come and listen to these songs of Freedom.

Weather permitting the group will sing in some of the sites associated with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and William Wilberforce. Hear these moving songs on Sunday afternoon 5 November:

  • 2:10pm Wilberforce House garden/Museum Gardens
  • 2:30pm Hull Minster
  • 3.00pm Market Place - honouring the time in 1873 when the Fisk Jubilee singers gave an impromptu outdoor performance for the poor people of Hull

Michael Harper gives workshops, master classes and lectures all over the world. This is a rare opportunity to see him conducting singers in Hull. Visit for more about Michael.