As one who was born and raised in Ghana, I have visited other Ghanaian castles, but my journey with you, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, brought me to the Elmina Castle for the first time. I still feel the tremendous despair that all of you felt when you walked into this space.
On this day, we have been able to achieve our goal of singing our sacred songs, the Negro spirituals, on the grounds of Elmina Castle. As a result of this performance, I believe that these walls and grounds of the castle are now saturated with God’s love, forgiveness, and peace.
Paul Kwami, Musical Director and Mike Curb Jubilee Singers Endowed Chair.
We toured several slave castles and recorded in Elmina Castle. You could literally feel, see and, within your own mind hear the screams, hear the people trying to say in their native language, “Let me go!,” “Send me home!,” “Leave me alone!” It was overwhelmingly powerful and deeply emotional.
Kawana Williams, Soprano
Performing at Elmina Castle
The recording of the “Sacred Journey” CD and DVD was done without audience inside the walls of Elmina Castle. The beauty and history of Africa set the stage for the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The ensemble sounded like angels and allowed the crew to share a moment in time. Elmina Castle has now been forgiven of its horrid past, thanks to the love of the Jubilee Singers’ voices.
Robert Swope, Producer
Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482, in present-day Elmina, Ghana. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and therefore, the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara Desert. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic Stave Trade. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1873 when the fort became a possession of the British Empire. Britain granted the Gold Coast its independence in 1957, and control of the castle was transferred to the nation of Ghana. During the slave trade the Elmina Castle was the last place thousands of Africans would see of their homeland. Today the castle is a popular historic site and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Monument.