Music Inside Out: The Zion Harmonizers

Mar 20, 2014

Credit Zack Smith


They are rooted in the quartet singing tradition and a capella harmonies from the turn of the last century. For nearly the half a century, the Zion Harmonizers have enjoyed an unparalleled platform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, anchoring and curating the Gospel Tent.

In the church of New Orleans jazz, they’ve had the keys to the church of church.

Thank God. It’s wonderful.



The Zion Harmonizers began as “New Zion” in 1939. The group’s longtime leader, the “Godfather of the Gospel Tent,” Sherman Washington joined up in 1941 and helped to spread the good news far and wide.

Washington died in 2011. The group is now lead by Brazella Briscoe who has planned a tour to coincide with the release of the Harmonizer’s first new recording in 15 years: Bringing In the Sheaves.

It’s a fitting celebration for a group that’s celebrating a Diamond Jubilee.

Visit the program's website for more on the Harmonizers, including a complete playlist, photos from the recording session, and a reflection on the quartet tradition in early jazz.