Fisk Jubilee Singers Leader Matthew Kennedy Dies At 93

Fisk Jubilee Singers Leader Matthew Kennedy Dies At 93

Matthew Kennedy directs the Jubilee Singers in the 1960s (left) and speaks in front of a paint of the original choir members. Image Via Kennedy documentary 'One Man's Story'
Matthew Kennedy directs the Jubilee Singers in the 1960s (left) and speaks in front of a paint of the original choir members. Image Via Kennedy documentary ‘One Man’s Story’

Pianist, Fisk professor, and longtime director of the Jubilee Singers Mathew Kennedy has died.

Kennedy grew up in a small, Georgia town, but his piano teachers took him to the city to hear concerts. In a documentary produced by his daughter, Kennedy said that time in the audience helped him out when he auditioned for Julliard.

“One of the jurors asked me if I had ever heard Rachmaninoff play his piece, and I was pleased to tell her that, yes, I had, in a recital in Macon, Georgia. And so she said, ‘I thought probably you had because I liked very much your interpretation and it seemed so much like what Mr. Rachmaninoff does.’”

Kennedy earned a master’s degree from Julliard. He served in the army, and, in 1954 joined Fisk’s music faculty. By the end of that decade, he’d given a solo show at Carnegie Hall and taken over as director of the Jubilee Singers.

Kennedy retired in 1986, but kept playing piano at First Baptist Capitol Hill into his 90s.

Matthew Kennedy died of complications from cancer. He was 93 years old.

Nina Cardona

Nina Cardona is WPLN's host for All Things Considered. As a reporter, she covers a wide range of assignments with an emphasis on culture, the arts and local history. A graduate of Converse College, she's lived in Middle Tennessee most of her life.
Close Menu