minstrel show

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minstrel show,

stage entertainment by white performers made up as blacks. Thomas Dartmouth Rice, who gave (c.1828) the first solo performance in blackface and introduced the song-and-dance act Jim Crow, is called the "father of American minstrelsy." The first public performance of a minstrel show was given in 1843 by the Virginia Minstrels, headed by Daniel Decatur Emmett. Christy's Minstrels (for whom Stephen FosterFoster, Stephen Collins,
1826–64, American songwriter and composer, b. Lawrenceville, Pa. His pioneer family was aware of his talent for music, but not understanding it they provided him with little formal musical education.
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 wrote some of his most popular songs) appeared in 1846, headed by Edwin P. ChristyChristy, Edwin P.,
1815–62, American showman, b. Philadelphia. He established c.1846 in Buffalo, N.Y., a company of minstrels that came to be known as Christy's Minstrels.
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. In the first part of the minstrel show the company, in blackface and gaudy costumes, paraded to chairs placed in a semicircle on the stage. The interlocutor then cracked jokes with the end men, and, for a finale, the company passed in review in the "walk around." This part of the minstrel show caricatured the black man, representing him by grotesque stereotypes that were retained in the minds of white American audiences for many decades. In the second part of the show vaudeville or olio (medley) acts were presented. The third or afterpart was a burlesque on a play or an opera. The minstrel show was at its peak from 1850 to 1870 but passed with the coming of vaudeville, motion pictures, and radio.


See C. Wittke, Tambo and Bones: A History of the American Minstrel Stage (1930, repr. 1968).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

minstrel show

a theatrical entertainment consisting of songs, dances, comic turns, etc., performed by a troupe of actors wearing black face make-up
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Foster clearly had no desire to do anything else but write the kind of music that made him famous, his minstrel songs.
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He deals well with the use and transmission of minstrel songs, for example.
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Revellers who took part in a traditional event in which locals black up and sing minstrel songs could face prosecution.
She marshals an impressive array of scholarship and primary sources--slave narratives, white amanuenses, plantation diaries and documents, newspaper accounts, missionary tracts, travel writing, amateur ethnographies, government reports, WPA testimonies, fiction, popular minstrel songs, agricultural journals, freedmen's primers, and legal cases--and offers a vivid account of the lives of African Americans during slavery and the postbellum period.
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Southern's documentation of the full range of African-American musical activities, including classical music, church music, composition, performance, spiritual-singing, and minstrel songs in addition to the more expected topics of jazz, blues, and ragtime quietly asserted the diversity of African-American cultural experience and its irreducibility to the stereotyped images of the "untutored primitive" transmitted in many writings about jazz and blues.
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Jim Crow was the stage name of an entertainer, who blacked up and sang minstrel songs - becoming a derogatory term applied to southern blacks.