Paul T. Kwami, D.M.A.
In 1994, he was named Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, becoming the first African to hold this position. He served as the Chairman of the Fisk Music Department from 1996 to 2003. Under his directorship, the Singers have received numerous awards including the induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2000, a Grammy Nomination and a Dove Award received for Poor Man Lazarus on the 2002 CD, In Bright Mansions. Other awards include induction into the Music City Walk of Fame, the Governor’s Folklife Heritage Award and the Recording Academy Honors. Kwami is the Executive Producer of the recording entitled, Rise, Shine! Fisk Jubilee Singers, Live In Concert. He is the Co-Executive Producer of In Bright Mansions. The recording of the latter led to William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC becoming the booking agents for the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
He is a composer, an arranger, a teacher and a conductor. The Fisk Jubilee Singers and vocal music performers around the country have performed Kwami’s compositions. His arrangements have also been featured in the documentary, The Fisk Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory. Kwami has been interviewed for various documentaries including The Story of Gospel Music, a BBC production, Ain’t That Good News: The Fisk Jubilee Singers which was produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, A Spiritual Journey with the Fisk Jubilee Singers produced by WKRN-TV, Nashville, TN and A Sacred Journey produced by Sunrise Music Group, Nashville, TN. He has worked with the Tennessee Arts Commission in presenting the ensemble in Tennessee’s major performing venues, including Laura Turner Hall in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville TN. This collaboration resulted in the production of a first-class educational curriculum, which has been distributed throughout schools in the state of Tennessee. This also led to the Fisk Jubilee Singers being awarded the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in 2008 at the White House. Kwami has also collaborated with the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to produce educational programs. As a choral music clinician, Kwami conducts workshops, master-classes and lecture recitals. He was recently commissioned by Tennessee Arts Commission to compose an original music, which was scored for a children’s chorus, SATB and full orchestra. The composition, We Love Music, was premiered at the 2013 ArtsFest in Memphis, TN with Kwami as the conductor.
Under his directorship the Fisk Jubilee Singers have performed in many renowned venues including Apollo Theatre, the historic Plymouth Congregational Church in New York, Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institute, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, The White House and several Spanish and Italian halls. The Fisk Jubilee Singers also have performed with Faith Hill, Hank Williams Jr., Shania Twain and Natalie Cole. Other such performances include appearances of the Fisk Jubilee Singers with Neil Young in the Live 8 concert in Canada, Farm Aid 2005 and the taping of his movie “Prairie Wind” at the Ryman Auditorium. In July 2007, Kwami led the Fisk Jubilee Singers, at the invitation of the Department of State, to Ghana on a sacred journey for the first time in the history of the ensemble for the celebration of Ghana’s 50th Independence anniversary.
Kwami is the first African to direct the ensemble and the first recipient of the award to serve as Curb-Beaman Chair for the Fisk Jubilee Singers ®. He serves as a board member for the following organizations: Nashville Advisory Council, Gospel Music Association Foundation and the Schermerhorn Symphony Committee in Nashville, TN. He is also a member of the Nashville Music Council and member of the Advisory Council for W.O. Smith Community Music School in Nashville.
Choral Compositions and Arrangements
We love music
Down by the riverside
Give me Jesus
He’s got the whole world in His hand
Oh, what a beautiful city
Nobody know the trouble I see
Swing low, sweet chariot
Every time I feel the spirit
Ohene ye hyiraa wo
Momma no so
An’ I cry
I want Jesus to walk with me
Ride the chariot
Scandalized my name
Stan’ still Jordan
This little light o’ mine
Ain’a that good news
Lord, I’m out here on your word
Were you there?
I’ve been in the storm
My Lord, what a morning
Mary come a-running
Paul T. Kwami, D. M. A.
Associate Professor, Curb/Beaman Chair of the Fisk Jubilee Singers
- Dip. Mus. Ed., National Academy of Music, Winneba, Ghana
- B.A. in Music, Fisk University
- M.M, Western Michigan University
- D.M.A. American Conservatory of Music
1000 17th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37208