Fisk University opened in Nashville in 1866 as the first American university to offer a liberal arts education to “young men and women irrespective of color.” Within five years, they were in need of financial assistance. And the Fisk Jubilee Singers were born. The 9-student choral ensemble left the university on October 6, 1871, to embark on a tour in effort to raise money for their school. Through their tour stops, they were able to earn enough money to cover expenses and support Fisk University. In 1872, they sang at the World Peace Festival in Boston and later that year, President Ulysses S. Grant invited them to perform at the White House. The Fisk Jubilee Singers ended up being the first musical act to tour around the world. The money they raised through their tours funded construction of the school’s first permanent building, Jubilee Hall. It’s now a National Historic Landmark and boasts a floor-to-ceiling portrait of the original Jubilee Singers, commissioned by Queen Victoria during the 1873 tour as a gift from England to Fisk University. The Jubilee Singers have continued the tradition ever since. In 2007, they were invited by the U.S. Embassy to Ghana to celebrate the nation’s Golden Jubilee. In 2008, they were selected to receive the National Medal of Arts.