Saturday, November 3, 2012

3 November 1915: "At Once Delightful and Unique"

On this day in 1915, the Tuskegee Singers performed at the private Moss High School auditorium at 450 Prince Avenue.

 (click to enlarge image to read program)

According to the Athens Banner, the quartet had been brought to town by "leading educators of the city, University professors, public school teachers, and some of the leading citizens." The event was a fundraiser for the Model and Training School in Clarke County, started in 1903 by Judia Jackson Harris.

Booker T. Washington organized the Tuskegee Singers quartet in 1884 "to 'promote interest in the Tuskegee Institute' by acquainting benevolent audiences to the Tuskegee name and Washington philosophy. " Washington believed African-Americans should be self-sufficient, and philosophy shared by the Model and Training School, which taught basic academic subjects, but also offered vocational education. 

The Tuskegee Singers were reorganized in 1909, and actually involved seven or eight young men at a time. They recorded albums of their music, mostly spirituals. The Banner noted, in their story anticipating the November 3rd program, that "every store handling first class victrola records has selections from the very quartet to be here tomorrow night."

The program was reviewed in the paper the next morning as "excellent" and "a real treat."  To hear the songs sung by this particular group of singers in 1915, click here.

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