Dr. Paul T. Kwami, a renowned music director for the world-famous, Grammy-winning Fisk Jubilee Singers for 28 years, reportedly died in a Nashville hospital early Saturday morning (September 10). He was 70.
Dr. Kwami’s family announced in a statement to The Tennessean on Saturday night that he had passed away. "It is with deep and immeasurable sadness that we share the news of the passing of our beloved husband, father, brother, cousin, uncle and friend, Dr. Paul Theophilus Kwami. His passing leaves a gaping hole in our souls as well as in our community and in our world," the statement reads.
Kwami led Nashville’s longest-running musical institution into a celebrated modern era during his tenure. The Fisk Jubilee Singers were founded in 1871 and were the first touring group to introduce “negro spirituals” to an international audience. Kwami then took them to unprecedented heights over a century later.
In 2021, the group won their first Grammy award for the “Celebrating Fisk” album, which was recorded live on stage at the Ryman Auditorium. That same year, they returned to the stage to celebrate their 150th anniversary.
During his tenure, the Fisk Jubilee Singers earned a National Medal of Arts and entered the Grammy and Gospel Music of Fame. More recently, he led the group at Carnegie Hall.
According to the family’s statement, funeral arrangements will be announced “in coming days.”