This fictionalized version of the formation of Fisk University's Jubilee Singers should be packaged with handkerchiefs, because by the end there won't be a dry eye among readers. Taking to the road in the early 1870s in a last-ditch effort to keep their college open, an African-American chorus plays to nearly empty houses as long as they sing ""the popular white songs""; when, led by their pianist Ella Sheppard, they switch to then seldom-heard spirituals and slaves' songs, they go on to international fame. In Colâ€”n's stylized, combed paintings, a golden light shines down on nine solemn, dignified people singing their hearts out; it's a portrayal that is so convincing that readers will almost hear the music. Hopkinson (Birdie's Lighthouse, 1997, etc.) frames her moving, inspirational account as a modern family story shared by Sheppard's descendants one of whom is a librarian at Fisk today.