From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

African American Performer at Louisville (Colored) Sängerfest

Sängerfest (or singer's festival) is a German cultural festival, first held in the United States in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1849. [Also spelled as Säengerfest.] In 1866 a festival was held in Louisville, KY; the New York Times reported it was to be the largest festival ever in the U.S. In 1881 there was a festival held at the Grand Opera House in Louisville, and included Amelia Tilghman, an African American singer, teacher, journalist, poet, and composer. Tilghman had a leading role, she was the prima donna soprano of the Sängerfest. There were objections from some Colored citizens of Louisville because the German term "Säengerfest" had been used by newspapers to name their 1881 Grand Union musical festival. The committee members of the 1881 Louisville Colored Säengerfest were William H. Gibson, president; H. C. Weeden, secretary, and N. R. Hapen, musical director. Hundreds of singers were expected to perform. For more see The Encyclopedia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature, and general information, volume VI, by H. Chisholm (1910) [available online via Google Book Search]; "The Louisville Sangerfest," New York Times, 07/20/1866, p. 5; Amelia Tilghman in Piano Music by Black women composers, by H. Walker-Hill; The Music of Black Americans: a history, by E. Southern; "Louisville Saengerfest," People's Advocate, 01/29/1881, p.1; and "Louisville item. The Saengerfest," People's Advocate, 05/14/1881, p.2.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Gibson, William H., Sr.
NKAA Entry: Weeden, Henry Clay
NKAA Source: The New York times (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Piano music by Black women composers: a catalog of solo and ensemble works
NKAA Source: The music of black Americans: a history
NKAA Source: The People's advocate (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Performer at Louisville (Colored) Sängerfest,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 4, 2020,

Last modified: 2019-03-28 15:33:24