American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Katherine Preston, Music Historian
fb is both it's b you know as i had with a glass this is a good talk about these issues
in late night is what he uses on these issues how have you been a public world musicians in the nineteenth century were pretty crass people and as torreon performers they were very my suspect by the americans general public spaces you go into small towns and his singers were in small towns and these were people who were coming in from the outside they didn't noted that the task wouldn't know who they work it in other backgrounds they didn't know they'd never been introduced to them so they were pretty much suspect they were kind of a play on an evil by a benign evil because people want to hear the concert but you might associate with them socially so there was a there was this this this image and show people that they're facing has had to deal with because they were in this context of show business and show business was very important in the late nineteenth century a theater in town instead of having a movie comes her who would have the
traveling troupe's either actors or elocution this or mesmerized years or minced rules or opera companies or concert saying is they would come through when you're performing the fear now that the future is a little bit different because they're performing that they're trying to stay away from the image of being theater people because their audience are intended audience is not as it would not necessarily go to the theater they would so so these the audience is that they're looking for oftentimes would be churchgoing people and they were often a rant or arrange to perform in churches in part to distance themselves from that image of being part of the theater which was very difficult image colorado
boulder strewn pasture because you know the opera company comes a town or traveling virtuoso pianist comes to town this is something that had been part of american society since buses reason it at twenty it's traveling virtuoso pianist traveling vile as traveling series had been going on basically a concert circuit since the twenties or thirties actually causing says the eighteen teams that the jubilee singers are trying to create a whole different kind of an idea they're trying to create and plus paul in a statement that the question is just talk a little bit about the difference between the current law there's less than one year tennessee well in any there there
they sat out as performers as that again now with the center's set out as performers of concert music and they have a certain goal in mind they won't raise money for the university they will make a point about the kind of music they can sing the kind of music that african americans can sing educated african americans and this is obviously looking for spring researchers going on because a singing spirituals and so forth you really songs or spirituals but as part of itunes itunes performers they fit into a certain a certain image of people that is basically show business people and this this whole group of people has a long history in american society traveling virtuoso pianists traveling virtuoso violinist singers and so forth which goes back to the eighteen teens eighteen twice so when people in the
town see that a concert truth has come to town they automatically assume that it it's show business people and that's a different audience than the church going people furthermore they see that as an african american or black roux didn't assume that their men's jobs not and which is completely different from noaa concert has a group that is aiming toward an audience comprised of churchgoing people not to complicate the issue is this whole idea of churchgoing people not going to the theater or you know in the nineteenth century there's a long history of particular religions being people of particular it's persuasion been very much opposed to the theater on the wine and extreme and you have people who believe that that play acting is essentially lying is essentially just pretending and therefore is that the work of the devil is bad and you do not want the associate with the feeder you know i set foot in theory you will be seen talking to a theater person so that's that's the
one extreme and in the new book until we get to that the other side were people are pretty there are perfectly amenable to going to theatrical performances they realize is pretending is just is to show and there can be some good some or all ah good coming from the theater and in between you have you have a lots of variations and end it depends to a great extent on the location and it addresses resettlement on the religious persuasion southern baptists or charismatic religions religious people would not dream of going to a theater whereas i've just a pale use our congregation this is over there on the other and so you have a you have a lot of variation and not just entering into the style of religion but also in the year in the location small towns to great extent are more insular they're less cosmopolitan in the facility have a harder time persuading people who go to whatever churches in atlanta where churches are are in there tap persuading them to come to a concert this winter that they're not they're not part of the
whole show business world oh really there is breaking news and it transitions if you're the other side of your presence to organize for example plans that should be worked through the night and sent messenger well what it will again sometimes just logistics what does that look like well anyone who has has taken up colleagues or a high school glee club or a band or orchestra on a small tumor has an idea of the detail the immense amount of detail that has to be attended to anybody whose child has participated such a thing has has about an inkling of an idea
but even someone of that nature was working the things today we will be setting us up for today for example you have the advantages of e mail and fax in the us poses a recent telephone and so on so forth people then did not have that obviously we have to remember that people forget that that there's a move those modern conveniences were not were not part of the ian of the picture so if you're an impresario anyone take a group of say nine singers onto or you have to become familiar with the rare of schedule as man how connections can be made and connections between trains and steamers and because the whole transportation network was intro law to you could get from it on a train go someplace and again steamboat go someplace and so on so forth also have to have look at your command the schedules of although the stages you know that the horse drawn carriages come and forget that they're you don't have automobiles and eighteen seventies she
had have all of that information as a fingertip you have to be familiar with our workplace is there were real singers could stay one boarding houses were available in and be able to go to a co op to make arrangements of those boarding house and you had to be a live feed your singers you had to be able to make sure i get it could clean themselves and clean their clothes you had to allow it to organize or renting our hall and sometimes in small towns the hall was not used very frequently you had to clean the place you had to arrange for heating and lighting in the places a wonderful story told by an african american vaudevillian who who wrote a book called a hundred years of the negro in american theater eyes name was tom fletcher and he writes about his experiences and the lakers it's without the jingle you're sure the sky tent
so so as it isn't as name ok as a wonderful story that a man named tom fletcher tells him and his memoirs he's a vaudevillian and he got a start in the late mid eighteen eighties and he talks about going on toward the minstrel true they were touring in ohio indiana kentucky and they would go into the small town city said the first thing they had to do was to tiffany a town hall basically an inaccurate and breathe a duster dead leaves and so forth because of all was not rented very free it was used by local roots and then they had to arrange to light the hall to try an approximate what i fear look like local roots it would rent the hall would bring their lamps there they're kerosene or that well at home unlike the hawk he's touring turn this was in care alliance with them to imagine the complications of acetate what would keep what he describes it is it takes these these bottles they put candles in them and spread them around the hall spread them around the state to try to approximate the lining of the theme of the classes we don't think about today you know you print hall
you turn the light switch on the us which comes on your u turn and the thermostat and he comes out and research at the interview with all these kinds of things in the nineteenth century advertising was an issue that had to do with an adversary generally travel ahead a couple of days ahead of the troop would contact read the local newspaper put an ad in the paper would contact a local printing job printing place which might be a newspaper printed play bills generally about this vague sometimes larger our walk around in a nail them onto trees associate the telephone pole to the four seven markets and where the trees and advertise through word of mouth or through these through this rather to our corner the pedestrian way of advertising and then sell them to sell the tickets so it was a bend them and then therefore there for the concert knew of the concept is back in some of the town a couple of stops back performing and he how to make sure things are ok for them and their baggage was ok that
that that they were getting to the train on time that they made the connections that they are though that they the intricacies are astonishing and anti obama the mine especially when you consider that all this had to be done either in person or by mail or by telegraph what kind of places you stay primarily in boarding houses and hotels if you're willing to spend extra money now the fist singers are are on a fund raising two or so they're trying to cut expenses where they can't they don't want to spend a lot of money for a hotel so that probably staying in boarding houses generally once a pretty close to the rare word they have to get to the theater then so forth who in the reminiscences that that i've looked at by vaudevillian for example are talking about the kind of boarding houses they say hard that does not make the boarding houses of the accommodations look very appetizing i'm
vaudeville is referred to rooms as sad to look under the bed rooms they're either dirty there are things don't work if they get there the blinds don't work as macabre is there's dirt there's peeling paint on the walls drunks commanded at odd hours to that that matters is a lumpy or or at at worst they're very thinly covered springs the food is not very good at get to use the bathroom they have to go to our house obviously see eighteen seventies is not much indoor plumbing and so the conditions were not or not very favorable i'll probably some bugs bugs in the beds of rats i mean i'm i'm theorizing but on it he can expect that in a place that's full of trance in just a month only ominous show transportation
committee ok ok while the bass prison being an african american toren in the eighteen seven says reconstruction period is complicated as seen by the very fact of that race if you're travelling on a train the performers had a trial and the jim crow color which is generally the car that is right in back of the locomotive now remember one time a diesel locomotive talking about steam engines ever allowed there's smoke pouring out of a smokestack for sinners and if you're in the car behind the idea the engine of the jim crow court again in a summertime you want to open the windows because it's very stuffy and you open the windows to dusk comes in this happens in fact not just with the jim crow carter with all the cars train travel on his time was not particularly comfortable and there's constant
motion you can get motion sickness isn't your thing and again during the summertime you open up the windows just to dusk comes in it gets in your hair is in your eyes because all of your skin to get senior luke imagine getting your teeth and the first thing you want to do when it does the place was wash themselves wash their clothes which of course was not particularly easy but it's complicated by the fact if you are an american and you're in a car that is closest to the engine so it's hotter it's noisier that the smoking rate in addition to the dust is coming in so it's not particularly comfortable now the cars in the wintertime or heated by basically wood stoves there located in the middle of the carcasses all of the cars of the train cars are wooden so you can imagine if there is a crash and there were frequent train crashes during his time then there will be consequence fire because because the wood stove with the embers would libya make me it
burst into flames now the problem aside from train crashes an oath of healing is that if you have to still high enough to keep the whole car then the people who are close to the stove are burning up we have the windows and everything is very stuffy and forth as well as i as i mentioned steamers were part of the whole transportation safety system packet boats which were essentially other boats that carried produce insulin so what also to calm passengers and they operate on a regular schedule on rivers in on the great lakes as well and they operate in with they they did dovetail with the railroads as well so and in traveling on these boats with a car how idyllic you're on a steamboat and people pay big bucks today to go on to the delta queen or whatever but it wasn't all that i don't
like it and it was two stories of that there were dangers involved there were there were in discomfort involved if you have motion sickness if you're are if you're on a boat and say the middle in chesapeake and one of the famous thunderstorms comes up images of picking up to deal with this relief lindsay crouse by modern standards and thunderstorms and waves and so and so forth that was something in terms of discomfort you have to do it now on top of all of this are the complications in the discomforts of trowel that anybody had to deal with even wealthy people are you have to add on top of that the complications of race and discrimination and segregation so as i mentioned before in terms of rail passage african americans were relegated to certain cars the least is our or cars in terms of steam passage they could not be first class passengers i had to be second class passengers the second class at areas were basically the lower part of that i'm never going to steam the terminology but
the lower part sit underneath and ventilation wasn't good but everything was segregated in terms of race in terms of gender and that was usually they were personally to sleep in but there were also saw a small recession or where their chairs so forth but again this wasn't this was the second class accommodations and african americans even if they're rich and wealthy we're not allowed to to use the first class accommodations and then the final compliance of transportation is there is a small town to small towns in on the rail this the final part of the transportation component is is getting from small town to small town you saying a stagecoach and of course staged trial in a timeless dirty dusty by a jolt here just china to turn imagine writing a stagecoach inn you're
flying along like this for hours three amazing that people actually do this i've read i've read accounts of people who were traveling performers and they describe this as busy a particularly difficult passage on a road that was full of potboiler saying is bing bing it's been thrown from one end to the other end of the car and get passengers to be i'm falling each other's laps and so forth it's a big strain isn't the usual but it's part of reality at the time and one thing i should mention is that when an impresario is arranging a concert or most probably he's going to try and set up concerts along rail lines drawn a steamboat line rather than trying to rely on a smaller stage stage coming age because it's easier to be mean in the rail transportation system in the eighties seventies immunizes was very expensive especially in the eastern half of the country so it is entirely possible to hit town after time after time i just getting on the train getting off a tray in your performance after performance get back on the train you know the next and his ego you boring house
do the performance and so forth so i'm not really sure about the sisters about their itinerary but i suspect that there that george white teenager i was more apt to schedule them in places that were easily accessible by trade and flop houses cages to just the accommodations and again with you work on you clinicians are you ok but most performers of this time wood would stay overnight in hotels if you're on the lower end of the performance spectrum in terms of money you won't save as much money in the system that are in that category because this is a money raising and devore oh you're staying and flop houses or in boarding houses the kitchen meals there the mules or nothing to write home about the rooms were
generally dirty and they were not well kept the vaudevillian as of this period referred to them as one of the bedrooms there was probably bugs in the bags that were probably rats around things didn't work very well the blinds are probably broke and i can just imagine a place that it is that is geared to deal with transience so so we have we have a not very whom luxury of such commendations to begin with and on top of that you have again the holes the hole veneer of race and segregation many boarding houses would not accommodate african americans and especially if you're dealing with the city's first to arrive this is singers and in a team in the early seventies making seventy one they're performing in places like ohio indiana and kentucky and they're going to small towns that are not necessarily
- American Experience
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- Katherine Preston Interview about a group of young ex- slaves in Nashville, Tennessee, who set out on a mission to save their bankrupt school by giving concerts. Traveling first through cities in the North, then on to venues across Europe, the Jubilee Singers introduced audiences to the power of spirituals, the religious anthems of slavery. Driven to physical collapse and even death, the singers proved more successful - and more inspirational - than anyone could have imagined.
- American history, African Americans, civil rights, racism, lynching, Mississippi
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Identifier: barcode7497_Preston_01_SALES_ASP_h264 Amex 864x486.mp4 (unknown)
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- Chicago: “American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Katherine Preston, Music Historian,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 30, 2020, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-hm52f7kt8f.
- MLA: “American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Katherine Preston, Music Historian.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 30, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-hm52f7kt8f>.
- APA: American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Katherine Preston, Music Historian. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-hm52f7kt8f