[PAST EVENT] Modernizing Hybridity: McAdoo's Jubliee Singers and Minstrels in South Africa 1890-1898

October 24, 2012
12pm - 1:15pm
Location
Morton Hall, Morton 314, Women's Studies Conference Room
100 Ukrop Way
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Modernizing Hybridity: McAdoo's Jubliee Singers and Minstrels in South Africa 1890-1898
By Dr. Chinua Thelwell
Mellon Fellow of Africana Studies

During the 1890s a group of African American jubilee singers led by Orpheus McAdoo successfully toured South Africa two times. McAdoo's troupe was modeled after the Fisk Jubilee Singers of the 1870s. During the first tour the repertoire of McAdoo's troupe was filled mostly with African American spirituals. For the second tour, McAdoo returned to South Africa with an expanded troupe that included minstrel performers, and essentially staged a series of minstrel shows. In this lecture Dr. Thelwell explores how McAdoo seamlessly moved between the genres of jubilee singing and minstrelsy. These two performance traditions have historically been at odds with one another. The Fisk Jubilee Singers for example, used a number of strategies in order to distinguish themselves from minstrelsy. They spoke properly, dressed in Victorian formal wear and attempted to project upper-class stage personas in hopes that they could distance themselves from the degrading form of blackface minstrelsy. This lecture will explore the ways in which McAdoo's troupe continued the legacies of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, even as they performed a variant of minstrelsy.
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