Come, Sit a Spell: Patti Malone - Plantation to Celebrated Singer
Celebrating the Alabama Bicentennial 2019 Theme: Our Stories
Following the Civil War, Patti enrolled in the Trinity School, founded by the American Missionary Association, a school for the children of former slaves in nearby Athens. Her efforts to get an education didn't come without penalty, as many refused to employ the parents of the children being taught in the new school. It wasn't until Patti's mother negotiated with her former owner for her to be employed and be joined by Patti before and after school that the family was supported. It was the arrival of Mary Wells, Principal and gentlewoman who had help plant Trinity school that Patti began to exercise her singing ability.
After finishing her studies at Trinity, Patti moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where Miss Wells helped Patti become enrolled...
... at Fisk University, also established by the Trinity creators, the American Missionary Association. At the time, Fisk was a fledgling institution, without a permanent campus and buildings. The university responded by choosing nine of its students to form a musical touring group to raise funds. The initial efforts unexpectedly netted over $100,000.00. After the initial tour, the university disbanded the troupe, however, the singers reorganized as an independent group, Fisk Jubilee Singers, and set forth on a second world tour.
Patti Malone was originally recruited as a chaperone of the Jubilee Singers. Patti, known for her talent as a mezzo soprano, was later tapped to fill in for an original member, Miss Jennie Jackson, who had fallen ill while on tour in Europe. She departed Nashville and joined the group in Germany in Autumn of 1877. She and the Fisk Jubilee Singers performed throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand, including for prime ministers and heads of state like Queen of England and German Emperor Wilhelm I.
Patti Malone died on January 20, 1897 in Omaha, Nebraska, with many accolades around the world. She was noted for her angelic voice and triumph --
“It is safe to say that no woman of her race ever sang in so many different countries of the world as Miss Patti J. Malone.”
-- Cleveland Gazette, Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Patti is interned in her native Athens in the Hines-Hobb Cemetery at the corner of West Hobbs and North Hines Streets.