STORY: The Jubalaries Were Doing Gospel Rap Back In 1940s


The Universal Hip-Hop Museum in the Bronx, NY
features displays, memorabilia, art, and exhibits
that thoughtfully and educationally piece together
the rich history of Hip-Hop. In a recent interview
with the museum’s curator, Claude “Paradise” Gray,
he admitted that rap music’s roots can be traced back to a gospel group in the 1940s named the

The story, found on CityLab, cites the Jubalaires,
along with, The Last Poets, The Watts Prophets,
Moms Mabley, Pigmeat Markham, and Muhammad
Ali as just a few of the biggest influences on the creation of hip-hop.

When referencing the Jubalaires, Gray says, “They
were a Christian gospel group that sang and
rapped with almost the same cadence as the Sugar
Hill Gang

Upon further investigation of this group, the Jubalaires consisted of Orville Brooks, Ted Brooks,
Caleb Ginyard, George McFadden, and later on Willie
Johnson. They were all active primarily through the
1940s and 50s and sang American Folk and Gospel

The four-piece would harmonize together in what was known as the jubilee style of singing, and
would often incorporate rhythmic speaking or
singing in their verses (rap). Obviously, back then it
was not called rapping, but their style certainly can
be credited as one of the earliest consistent forms
of it in music.

Some of the Jubalaires most well-known songs
include “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,”
“Noah,” “The Preacher and the Bear,” and “God
Almighty’s Gonna Cut You Down/Go Down Moses,”
which was later popularized by the late Johnny

Check out some of the group’s music below:


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