In 1871, hoping to raise funds for Fisk University, school treasurer and music teacher Geoff L. White borrowed money and set out with nine student singers for a tour despite the disapproval of the university.
        Withstanding hardships and indignities, this nameless and almost penniless group persevered against all odds to save their school from bankruptcy and closure. The singers ranged in age from fifteen to twenty-five years and all were former slaves or children of slaves.

        Financially unsuccessful at first, the group abandoned its classical, popular repertoire for powerful, moving spirituals and slave songs. The group also adopted the name of Jubilee Singers, from the biblical reference to the time of jubilee and the freeing of all slaves.
        The group's manager, George White, was without musical training himself, but he was a fine singer, was dedicated to music, and had the added talent of getting the utmost from his gifted singers. Soon the power and eloquence of their music was entrancing and inspiring audiences, which always cheered for encores.
        After several tours throughout the United States and Europe, the Jubilee Singers eventually raised $150,000, securing the school's future. The funds purchased Fisk's present campus (old Union Fort Gillem) in North Nashville and built Jubilee Hall, the first permanent building in America for the education of blacks (now designated as a national historic landmark).
        Begun as a free school providing primary through college education for newly freed slaves, Fisk was founded in 1866 by the Congregational Church's American Missionary Association, the Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, and former Union Army General Clinton B. Fisk of the Freedmen's Bureau. Its only buildings at first were abandoned Union Army barracks.
        Each October 6, Fisk celebrates Jubilee Day, commemorating the original Jubilee Singers, who sang before kings, queens, and heads of state; who captured the hearts of all who heard their music; who introduced to the world the beauty and tradition of the Negro spiritual; and who, with steadfastness and commitment, virtually saved their university.