Give Me Wings
How A Choir of Former Slaves Took on the WorldBook - 2015
Changing minds one song at a time.
The 1800s were a dangerous time to be a black girl in the United States, especially if you were born a slave. Ella Sheppard was such a girl, but her family bought their freedom and moved to Ohio where slavery was illegal; they even scraped enough money together to send Ella to school and buy her a piano. In 1871, when her school ran out of money and was on the brink of closure, Ella became a founding member of a traveling choir, the Jubilee Singers, to help raise funds for the Fisk Free Colored School, later known as Fisk University.
The Jubilee Singers traveled from Cincinnati to New York, following the Underground Railroad. With every performance they endangered their lives and those of the people helping them, but they also broke down barriers between blacks and whites, lifted spirits, and even helped influence modern American music: the Jubilees were the first to introduce spirituals outside their black communities, thrilling white audiences who were used to more sedate European songs.
Framed within Ella's inspiring story, Give Me Wings! is narrative nonfiction at its finest, taking readers through one of history's most tumultuous and dramatic times, touching on the Civil War, Emancipation, and the Reconstruction Era.
Click here to listen to the Publishers Weekly KidsCast: A Conversation with Kathy Lowinger.