Chicago—September 12, 2017— Every Sunday morning from 1963 until 1984, Chicago gospel music lovers watched Jubilee Showcase for the inspiring and soul-stirring performances by nationally known artists and local favorites, including the Staple Singers, Andrae Crouch, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, the Soul Stirrers, Albertina Walker, the Caravans, Jessy Dixon, the Barrett Sisters, Vernon Oliver Price and the Norfleet Brothers.
Choral groups such as George Mays and Voices of Praise, the Wooten Choral Ensemble as well as the Institutional Church of God in Christ Radio Choir from Brooklyn, NY, were also regularly featured on the program.
Episodes of this classic gospel television show are now available through Vimeo On Demand, an online video/movie sharing service (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/jubileeshowcase).
The Jubilee Showcase archive is the single largest collection of historic Gospel music television footage in the world, and consists of 100 half-hour programs, which have never been seen by a national audience on television. In 2013, the television program celebrated its 50th anniversary during a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Special, Gospel’s Jubilee Showcase hosted by actor, singer, songwriter and minister Clifton Davis. The PBS Special is available on Vimeo for $1.99.
More than 50 years ago, the show’s creator and host, Sid Ordower, a white Jewish civil rights activist, had little idea he was beginning to build one of the most comprehensive collections of gospel music ever, let alone a vital piece of Chicago’s and America’s history. He wanted to bring what he called “that fine American music” to a larger audience. The program aired on the Chicago ABC affiliate WLS-TV (Channel 7) and won a National Emmy Award for a “pioneering project in television.” To date, Jubilee Showcase performers have won more than 30 Grammy Awards.
These historic broadcasts are accessible through this Vimeo link (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/jubileeshowcase). Sunday morning shows are available for $1.29 per episode; the PBS special can be streamed for $1.99.
Gospel music devotees visiting Vimeo’s Jubilee Showcase page can click on a specific show for a list of artists and songs, rent the episode and enjoy stellar, spirited performances of gospel, spiritual, jubilee and inspirational music for 48 hours. The commercial-free programs are purchased in a secure environment via PayPal and can be watched anytime, anywhere using a variety of platforms—iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast, in addition to tablets, computers and mobile phones.
Fans of gospel music who “like” the Jubilee Showcase Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/jubileeshowcasefan), will receive updates about other classic releases, enjoy bonus musical excerpts and interviews, plus have an opportunity to chat with other Jubilee Showcase enthusiasts.
Performances currently on demand include the Soul Stirrers (“Be With Me, Jesus”), the Edwin Hawkins Singers (“Oh Happy Day”), Albertina Walker and the Caravans (“When I’ve Done the Very Best I Can”), Andrae Crouch (“Jesus is the Answer”), the Barrett Sisters (“We’re Going to Have a Time”) and many more. Other shows will be added every 1 to 2 weeks, plus there’s free bonus material offered for viewing, including excerpts of interviews with Mavis Staples and Bobby Jones.
When asked to explain why he’s made these shows available online, Steve Ordower, a Chicago-area filmmaker and producer, replied, “I’m releasing the episodes for people to experience this vital piece of American cultural history. This TV archive is a rich and beautiful musical treasure.”
Ordower, who is also the son of the program’s creator and host, further explained, “It’s critical people understand that much of the music we hear today has been directly or indirectly influenced by the music and artists on Jubilee Showcase.” Examples of that influence include the late Jessy Dixon, who eventually wrote songs for Cher, Diana Ross and Natalie Cole and recorded with Paul Simon; the late Andrae Crouch, who worked with Michael Jackson, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones; and Mavis Staples, who has collaborated with Prince, Van Morrison, and most recently, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.