The Hampton Institute Male Quartet first sang at Silver Bay in 1901, raising $303 in donations for their school. They appeared again in 1926, ’27 and ’28, singing at the YMCA’s Industrial Conference.
The Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute of Virginia was founded in 1868 by Gen. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, commander of an African American regiment during the Civil War. Hampton followed the example of Fisk University by forming a gospel ensemble and touring to raise money for the school while presenting a positive and dignified image to the public. The tours began during the 1870s and raised $75,000.
The photo above shows the Hampton Quartet, among them American concert tenor and future lawyer and newspaper publisher Robert S. Abbott, on the campus of the Hampton Institute (later renamed Hampton University) in 1896.