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A Band of Angels

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Inspired by the life of Ella Shepperd Moore, this book tells the story of a girl named Ella, who sang with the Jubilee Singers at the Fisk School, the first school for freed slaves. Told from the point of view of Ella’s great-great-granddaughter, we learn of the Ella’s musical talent as well as her role in the preservation of traditional spirituals such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, and “Go Down, Moses”.

While this story is somewhat fictionalized, it is based on Ella Shepperd’s experiences as the pianist for the Jubilee Singers. It was on their historic concert tours that enough money was raised to fund the construction of Jubilee Hall, the first permanent structure in the American South for the education of Black students.

"Colon's soft watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations are full of gentle greens and browns. The sepia tones add an antique look to the book. This heartwarming presentation is not a historical account, but rather a human look at recorded facts. A fine read-aloud with a good story, uplifting pictures, and fascinating information." -- School Library Journal

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Description

A Band of Angels is fiction, but it is based on real events and people. The character of Ella was inspired by Ella Sheppard Moore, who was born February 4, 1851, in Nashville, Tennessee. Her father was able to free himself and young Ella from slavery, but before he could buy freedom for Ella's mother she was sold away. Ella was raised in Cincinnati, where she took music lessons. At fifteen, she was left penniless when her father died. She arrived at Fisk School in 1868 with only six dollars.

Fisk was opened in 1866 as a school for former slaves and began offering college classes in 1871. That year, in a desperate attempt to save Fisk from closing, a music teacher named George White set out with a group of students on a singing tour to raise money. Although at first they only sang popular music of the day, they soon became famous for introducing spirituals to the world.

Ella Sheppard was the pianist for the Jubilee Singers on their historic concert tours, which raised enough money to save the school and build Jubilee Hall, the first permanent structure in the South for the education of black students. Ella later married George Moore, had three children, and located her mother and a sister. She died in 1914. Today her great-granddaughter is a librarian at Fisk University who shares the history of the Jubilee Singers with visitors.

Although none graduated from Fisk, the original Jubilee Singers were recognized with honorary degrees in 1978. Today, Jubilee Singers at Fisk University continue to keep alive a rich musical tradition that includes such songs as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Many Thousand Gone," and "Go Down, Moses."

Product Details

Recommended Age 5 - 10
Author Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrator Raul Colon
ISBN 0689848870
Publication Date Jan 1, 2002
Publisher Aladdin
Award Winners Jane Addams Award
Language English