Fisk Spring Arts Festival highlights Sesquicentennial Celebration

Nikki Giovanni at Emory University 2008 (Photo by Brett Weinstein/WIKI)

Nikki Giovanni at Emory University 2008 (Photo by Brett Weinstein/WIKI)

Celebrate the 87th annual Spring Arts Festival at Fisk University April 4 through April 10. The theme for this year is “Fisk’s Sesquicentennial Year: Impacting the World Through Education, The Arts and Sciences, and Social Change.” The annual Spring Arts Festival is an established tradition at Fisk University, extending over one half the history of the University. Fisk is in the midst of observing it’s founding a century and a half ago in 1866.

In 1949, Georgia O’keefe donated 101 works of art, ranging from African masks to Modernist paintings, to Fisk. Most of the objects had been collected by O’Keeffe’s late husband, Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer, gallery owner, and tireless champion of American Modernists, including O’keeffe, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, and John Marin among many others.

“Photographic images have shaped social, political and economic views around the world,” said Fisk alumna Barbara DuMetz. “In 1924 Alfred Stieglitz, one of the most influential men in photography, was the first to have his photographs exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was at this time that photography began to gain acceptance as a true art form.”

The artwork donated by O’Keefe has been under a sharing arrangement with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Their partnership allows this important collection to be shared between Nashville and Bentonville on a biannual basis. It has returned to Nashville after a time at Crystal Bridges, during which the Carl Van Vechten Art Gallery has been completely renovated and significantly upgraded to host it.

Origins of Influence: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern Art celebrates the legacy of the modernest movement. The exhibition welcomes back the collection with Reception and a Grand Opening on Thursday, April 7, during the Festival.

Monday, April 4, 2016 the Festival holds a Kick-off concert featuring Kim Fleming in the Fisk Memorial Chapel at 7:00 pm. Tuesday, April 5, the Faculty/Alumni Art Show Reception in the Carl Van Vechten Gallery runs from 12 Noon until 1:00 pm. Wednesday, April 6, a screening of Finding Samuel Lowe: from Harlem to China begins in Jublilee Hall at 6:00 pm by the International Black Film Festival. Thursday, April 7, the Stieglitz Collection Grand Opening runs from 6:30 – 8:30 pm in the Carl Van Vechten Art Gallery.

Thursday and Friday, April 7-8, The Fisk Stagecrafters’ musical production of Train Is Comin’ begins each night at 7:00 pm in the Fisk Memorial Chapel. The play was written by McKinley Johnson with musical arrangements by George Cooper. Saturday, April 9, the Fisk Jubilee Singers will celebrate Fisk University’s 150th anniversary with a a benefit Concert at 8:00 pm at Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. Sunday, April 10, the 87th annual Spring Arts Festival concludes with the Fisk for Fisk Concert. It features Fisk alumna Nikki Giovanni and begins at 7:00 pm in the Fisk Memorial Chapel Chapel.

For more information, visit the official website at

Fisk Jubilee Singers host benefit Concert at Ryman

The Fisk University Jubilee Singers 2016

The Fisk University Jubilee Singers 2016

The world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers will perform at the historic Ryman Auditorium on April 9 at 8 p.m. in a benefit concert. It honors their history as Nashville’s earliest ambassadors of music and helps celebrate the 150th anniversary of Fisk University’s founding in 1866. Also performing are gospel singer CeCe Winans, legendary bluesman Sam Moore, southern rocker Jimmy Hall and singer-songwriter Ruby Amanfu, among others.

“We are thrilled about this performance at the Ryman. For over a century, the Fisk Jubilee Singers have been the crown jewels of our university and this performance will be a great way to remind Nashvillians why they are so highly regarded,” said Frank. L. Sims, president of Fisk University. “Dr. Kwami and The Fisk Jubilee Singers have done a tremendous job in keeping the essence of spirituals and song alive and the Fisk community is forever grateful for their talents.”

The concert features the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ traditional repertoire and collaborations with guest artists under the direction of Paul T. Kwami. GRAMMY, Emmy and Dove award-winning producer Shannon Sanders is co-musical director for the concert.

“I am honored to work alongside Dr. Kwami in the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Fisk University,” Sanders said. “Fisk and the Jubilee Singers are part of the fibers that make up the fabric of Music City.”

The Fisk Jubilee Singers was organized as a choral ensemble in 1871 and has played an important role in introducing and sustaining the tradition of the Negro spiritual to the world. The ensemble traveled throughout the world in the 1800s, singing songs that were sacred to them and raising money to support Fisk University. This music, which has its roots in West African culture, has influenced various forms of American music and continues to be an important part of Nashville’s music culture.

“The Fisk Jubilee Singers served as Nashville’s earliest ambassadors of music and continue to add richness to the world-class music of all genres being created and performed in Music City,” said Ken Levitan, board chair of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and co-president of Vector Management. “Their history is deeply connected to the reason why Nashville became known as Music City. To this day, they are a national treasure, and they are right here in our own backyard.”

Fisk Jubilee Singers still travel globally, representing Fisk University and the City of Nashville. The ensemble is comprised of Fisk students selected annually through an audition process. Their numerous awards include the Music City Walk of Fame and the GRAMMY Hall of Fame, and the 2008 National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest artistic honor.

Tickets for the April 9 concert are $39.50-$50; on sale now at Ticketmaster and the Ryman box office.