For today’s American Heroes, I offer you the Jubilee Singers. They were founded in 1871, a group of former slaves and children of slaves, well-trained musicians who performed internationally to help support their school, Fisk University. They sang patriotic songs and popular ballads, and it would have been heroic enough, perhaps, that they used their talents to make education possible for African-Americans, who could not, at that time, expect a welcome at most American colleges. It must have taken a good deal of courage for these young people from Tennessee to travel such distances, and to sing for the likes of Queen Victoria.
But they soon added to their repertoire the traditional songs of the slaves, the songs we call spirituals. Most of their audiences had never heard this music, and the Jubilee Singers are credited with preserving this important part of our American heritage. They were able to raise $150,000, enough to buy the present campus of Fisk University, which had till that time been a struggling school (the Fisk Free Colored School) for African Americans of all ages, housed at an old Army barracks.
Here you can hear some of the songs the Jubilee Singers sang. You may already know them — and if so, you can thank the Jubilee Singers. And here is a very interesting article about their Welsh tour, undertaken at a time when the Welsh were feeling rather put upon (for good reason, you will find if you follow the link) and could really relate to the trials the singers had faced.
We faced no trials yesterday. We sang rousing songs in church, we grilled hamburgers and zucchini spears (with a little olive oil and Cajun seasoning — yum), we went to a party and also to do some shopping.
The point of the shopping was that I should find a cheap, simple pair of sandals. I am not sure that I was successful in this, because I now have a pair of slides in “seaweed” rather than the simple leather sandals I had in mind. #2 daughter, however, was able to buy some charming new pumps for her job, which doesn’t include as much physical labor as mine, and her evenings out in the city, of which I have essentially none. While I know that my only feeling toward a pair of flirty burgundy pumps with an open toe and a frill of leopard-print chiffon would be — after I had worn them for an hour at work — profound hatred, I admit that there was a moment there when I wished that I still had occasions for wearing really pretty shoes.
I should say that I know that, had we gone to a shoe store like serious shoppers, we would have been able to find simple leather sandals. However, we were at T.J. Maxx, with a settled intention not to spend more than $16 a pair. That is like going hunting, not like going to the butcher shop. #2 daughter was in luck, because dressy pumps were what was in stock that day. However, I was also in luck, because she spotted a hoard of Yorkshire tea, and we snagged the lot.
Then there was further progress on the finishing of garments, which is sort of what I had planned to accomplish this weekend. I say “sort of” because accomplishing things is fairly low on my list of goals for the weekend. But I have finished my two blouses, with very pretty buttons. An Art Nouveau lady for the blue, and a Celtic knot for the paisley.
Any minute now I am going to try to winkle the kids out of bed. I am luring them with a promise of a visit to the bakery for pastries and hot chocolate, followed by a nice long tramp on one of the new trails — our town is working toward hooking up all the local walking trails into a grand network of walks that will extend throughout the town. This walking business must obviously be done before we get up into the 90s.