Fisk Jubilee Singers and Quartet, Loudin Jubilee Singers, Leota Henson, Florence Mills Featured on Next Episode of "The Noshing with Nina Show"


Bill Egan, author of the new book African American Entertainers in Australia and New Zealand: A History, 1788-1941 is Nina Kennedy's guest on the November episode of The Noshing with Nina Show.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers under director Frederick Loudin - who had sung with the original Fisk Jubilee Singers of 1872 - sailed to Australia in 1888, and remained in the "Australian Colonies" for 3 and a half years. Bill Egan devoted several pages in his book to the Jubilee Singers, and quoted some of the observations written by piano accompanist Leota Henson. The first African American woman to study piano at the Leipzig Conservatory of Music - which was founded by composer Felix Mendelssohn in 1843 - Leota had typed seven pages that she titled "A Few Notes on the Life of Leota Henson." Host Nina Kennedy found those seven pages in a box of her grandmother's papers. Her grandmother, Nina Hortense Clinton, had sung with a later group of Jubilee Singers (1900-1903), and she and Leota became best friends. Years later, Leota was the Matron of Honor at Nina Clinton's wedding, and signed the marriage certificate as a witness.

Loudin's Jubilee Singers of 1900


Nina Kennedy and Bill Egan also discussed the Fisk Jubilee Quartet, who performed throughout Europe and received international acclaim. You will hear the 1909 recording of the Quartet singing the Spiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" as it was arranged by Ella Sheppard, the matriarch of the original group of Fisk Jubilee Singers of 1871. You will also hear the Fisk Jubilee Singers of 1955 in a performance of the Spiritual "When I Was Sinkin' Down," directed by John W. Work III.

Image of the Fisk Jubilee Quartet in the German press of 1877

Bill Egan also shares some information on the paper he prepared to present at the Duke Ellington Conference in Washington, D.C., on Duke Ellington's concert tours of Australia in 1970 and 1972. The 1928 recording of "Black Beauty" by Duke and his Cotton Club Band sparked Bill's interest in Duke's work. That recording is heard during the show. Bill explained his belief that Ellington composed "Black Beauty" as a tribute to Broadway singer/dancer Florence Mills, who had died the previous year.

Florence Mills

Join us for a lively discussion and wonderful music this Wednesday, November 18th at 3:00 pm. in Manhattan on MNN2. Live stream at mnn.org. The show will be broadcast in Brooklyn the following week on Monday the 23rd and Wednesday the 25th at noon and 5:00 pm. on BRIC2.

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