Dr. Paul T. Kwami, who served as musical director of the Grammy-winning Fisk Jubilee Singers, has died. He was 70. Kwami, who was born in Ghana, passed away from an undisclosed illness
Kwami, a 1985 alum of Fisk, served as the musical director of the Jubilee Singers from 1994 to 2022. During his tenure, Kwami led the Fisk Jubilee Singers --- Nashville's longest-running musical institution --- into a celebrated modern era. Founded in 1871, the touring group was the first to introduce "negro spirituals" to an international audience. Over a century later, Kwami took them to unscaled peaks. The Jubilee Singers received a Grammy Award, a Dove Award, a National Medal of the Arts and an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Kwami directed performances at Carnegie Hall, the Ryman Auditorium, the Apollo Theater and the White House.
In a statement, his family writes, "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."
In 2021, they won their first Grammy award for the "Celebrating Fisk" album, recorded live on stage at the Ryman Auditorium. They returned to the stage that same year to celebrate their 150th anniversary.
"Dr. Kwami was a real bridge for the Fisk Jubilee Singers from the past into the future," said Nashville music producer Shannon Sanders, a frequent collaborator with the troupe and a man Kwami called "my brother" from the Ryman stage earlier this year.