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

Jackson, Robert G. [Jackson Jubilee Singers]

(born: 1880  -  died: 1929) 

Robert G. Jackson was regarded as one of the best music educators of his time. Under the direction of Robert G. Jackson, the Western University music department, a HBCU (historically black college and university) in Kansas, had a peak year in 1912 with 153 music students: "They repeatedly won the composition competition held by the Interstate Literary society, founded in 1891 by Langston Hughes' grandfather Charles Langston, in Topeka, Kansas" ~ [source: p.18 in From Spirituals to Symphonies by Helen Walker-Hill]. 

Robert G. Jackson was also the founder of the Jackson Jubilee Singers, a group that traveled on the Redpath Chautauqua Circuit. The group performed a wide variety of Negro songs. All of the members were high school graduates, and 7 of the 8 were college graduates. Robert G. Jackson was born in Sandersville (Fayette County), KY, and spent some of his younger years in Kansas; he was a graduate of both Lawrence High School and the University of Kansas [source: Jackson Jubilee Singers image description in the Iowa Digital Library]. The other members of the group were Edgar Dupee, C. L. Russell, Minnie C. Gilbert, Dorothy Langston, Jackson Trueitt, Neoma Campbell, and Hartzell Parham. Group leader Robert G. Jackson was the dean of Western University in Quindaro, KS, in addition to being head of the Department of Music.

In July of 1925, an ad announced that the Redpath Chautauqua would be at the Bryan (OH) Chautauqua, August 25-31, and one of the groups performing was the Jackson Jubilee Singers who were highlighted on the following page with a picture and several paragraphs about the group [sources: Redpath Chautauqua ad in the Bryan Democrat, 07/31/1925, p.2, top of columns 5-6; and "Songs of the South Chautauqua," Bryan Democrat, 07/31/1925, p.3]. The Jackson Jubilee Singers also performed at churches and other non-chautauqua related events; the singers were recruiters for Western University, they sought potential students who possessed singing and musical talents. The group members would continue to change during the lifetime of the group, 1907-1943.

Western University closed in 1943, it had opened in 1865 as the Quindaro Freedman's School [source: H. Walker-Hill, "Western University at Quindaro, Kansas (1865-1943) and its legacy of pioneering musical women," Black Music Research Journal, v.26, no.1, Spring 2006, pp.7-37].

According to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Robert G. Jackson was born in 1880; he was about 2 months old when the census data was collected in June of 1880. Also, according to the family tree in, Robert G. Jackson was born March 26, 1880. He was living with his family in Fayette County, KY when the 1900 U.S. Federal Census was taken. In 1903, Robert G. Jackson married Clara M. Sparks and they lived in Kansas City, KS. The couple had two daughters, Marie and Aleta, and according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, three of Robert G. Jackson's sisters lived with the family. The sisters' names were Anna (24), Rosa (22), and Viola Jackson (19).

Robert's wife, Clara M. Sparks Jackson, was born in Lawrence, KS in 1880 and died there in 1931. But long before her death, more of her husband's family was moving from Kentucky to Kansas. By 1915, Robert G. Jackson's mother, Delilah Culverson Jackson, was also living in Kansas City along with her children Cornilus (24), Arlene (18), Mattie (15), and 78 year old Martha Colmston. Two years later, Clara and Robert had divorced, and in August of 1917, Robert G. Jackson married Antoinette Young who was from Los Angeles, CA [source: "Kansas' greatest musician marries accomplished Los Angeles girl," Advocate (Kansas), 08/31/1917, p.1]. Robert G. Jackson died Christmas Day of 1929, according to the Obituary Index found online at the Wyandotte County Museum website. According to his entry in the Obituary Index, Robert G. Jackson's death notice was taken from the Kansas City Kansan newspaper dated 12/26/1929.

Additional information about the family of Robert G. Jackson provided by Yvonne Giles: Robert G. Jackson was the eldest son of Edward W. Jackson, Sr. and Delilah Culverson Jackson. His parents married 26 Mar 1878 in Clark County, KY. The 1900 Fayette County KY Census, Sheet 4, 7th Precinct, Index 145B lists all the children as well as Delilah's widowed mother. Edward W. Jackson Sr. was the oldest son of Jordan Carlisle Jackson, Sr. and James Ann Buckner Jackson. Edward Sr.'s brothers were Jordan Carlisle Jackson, Jr. (E. Belle) and John Henry Jackson (first president of KY Normal - KSU). Edward W. Jackson, Sr. was born Nov 1845 and died 17 Oct 1909; he is buried in African Cemetery No. 2. Obituary: Lexington Leader, Sec 1, p6, 10/18/1909; Tribute by W.D. Johnson, Lexington Leader, p8, c6, 10/20/1909. Delilah Jackson was born 2 Mar 1854 in Clark County, KY, and she died 13 Mar 1944 in Kansas.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Clark County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Sandersville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Jackson, Robert G. [Jackson Jubilee Singers],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-04 14:54:27