R. Letroy Billups
Paul T. Kwami ‘85
Musical Director &
Curb/Beaman Chair of the
Fisk Jubilee Singers ®
Dr. Paul T. Kwami is Musical Director and Curb-Beaman Chair of the Fisk Jubilee Singers
Dr. Kwami was born in Ghana, West Africa one of seven children. His father, a musician, taught him piano, violin, theory and conducting. He studied music at Ghana’s National Academy of Music and taught there until immigrating to the US in 1983 as a student at Fisk University. He promptly joined the Jubilee Singers.
After graduating from Fisk in 1985 he continued to study music at Western Michigan University. In 1994 he was solicited to serve as part-time director of the Jubilee Singers. Shortly therafter, Dr Kwami was promoted to full time faculty member in the music department and musical director of the Singers. He is the first African to direct the ensemble, and the first to hold the Curb-Beaman Chair position. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the American Conservatory of Music.
Dr. Kwami feels a deep connection between Negro spirituals and the music of his Motherland. “The music we sing today helps to bridge the gap between Africans and African-Americans,” he says. “When my students sing, I am reminded of my life in Ghana and feel close to my past.”
The music also touches his spirit. He believes in the sovereignty of God, who was a source of faith, hope and love for slaves and for the original Jubilee Singers. “My greatest desire is to fulfill my call,” he says.
He is a professor in the Fisk University music department.