University Statement Regarding the Passing of
It is with the heaviest of hearts and the deepest of sorrows that Fisk University today announces the passing of Dr. Paul T. Kwami ’85. Dr. Kwami served as the Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers® from 1994 to 2022. During Dr. Kwami’s twenty-eight-year tenure, the Fisk Jubilee Singers® received the highest musical honors including a GRAMMY award, a Dove Award, a National Medal of the Arts, and an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Dr. Kwami consistently directed performances in the world’s most prestigious venues including at Carnegie Hall, The Ryman Auditorium, The Apollo Theater, and The White House. His musical genius was towering, and his legacy will live forever.
When news of Dr. Kwami’s illness first spread, notes, recordings and flowers poured in from across the globe. From musical icons to seemingly every Fisk Jubilee Singer over the past thirty years, the messages all bloomed with love, gratitude, and appreciation. Few people have ever, nor will ever, touch hearts and change lives like Dr. Kwami. He embodied the Fisk family and to every Fisk Jubilee Singer, he was more than their musical father. His talent was unprecedented, his composure legendary, his insight immense and his dedication unwavering. With one simple look, Dr. Kwami could change a tune, improve an arrangement, command focus, incite peace, and inspire a smile. His gentle voice and generous spirit made everyone better and strive to be better. He will be missed by everyone fortunate to have ever met him.
Today, Fisk University is joined by the musical world in mourning the passing of a giant. A giant who was born in Ghana but whose impact would transcend the world of music. Who could know that the student who first arrived on the Fisk campus in 1983 would go on to shepherd this legendary ensemble through a glorious period culminating in an unforgettable sesquicentennial year? Maybe only Dr. Kwami himself with his profound wisdom and deep faith could have predicted this journey and possibly the next glorious chapter of the Fisk Jubilee Singers®. In the words of one of Dr. Kwami’s favorite spirituals: “Lord, I’m Out Here on Your Word,” and the entire Fisk family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts.
We ask that you please keep Dr. Kwami’s family in your thoughts and prayers and honor their privacy as they mourn this heartbreaking loss.
Additional details will be shared as they are finalized.