Because the a baby she acquired moving instruction out of an excellent Mrs. Thorp into the midtown Manhattan. Around 1897, shortly after graduating off Thorp’s moving university, she toured briefly that have Black Patti’s Troubadours. A great girlfriend acceptance her in order to model having an advertisement with Bert Williams and you can George Walker, who’d merely obtained a hit within their vaudeville first at the Koster and you will Bial’s Sounds Hall. She provided to model on advertising and you may then registered the new men to dancing from the cakewalk finale. Shortly after signing up for John W. Isham’s Octoroon, a good critic to your Indianapolis Freeman declared, “I experienced just observed a girl performer.” That have Elegance Halliday she molded brand new sis dance operate regarding Overton and you may Halliday gГ¶rГјnГјm. It did as the pair of Honolulu Belles on Williams and you will Walkers’ The insurance policy Players (1899), and you may after that, Overton started initially to produce since the an effective soloist with an increase of good opportunities. Throughout the songs funny The latest Sons of Ham (1900) she carried out and you will danced “Miss Hannah away from Savannah” and you will “Best Lady”; plus in their second release, “Society” and you may “Gleaming Ruby” hence lead their jubilant acclaim. James Weldon Johnson typed one to she “got the lowest-pitched voice with an organic sob so you’re able to they, and therefore she realized the way you use with advising impression in the getting more than a tune” (Johnson 1933). Tom Fletcher recalled their particular once the an artist whom performed ragtime music and you may ballads equally well; so when a performer “which you will definitely manage everything, and no count if it was money-and-side, cakewalk, or even some type of grotesque moving . . . she lent the fresh new overall performance a cool gracefulness of motion unsurpassed by anyone” (Fletcher 1954).
When you look at the 1910, she joined the new Smart Lay, a black theatrical business, and you can starred in His Honor the Barber (1911)
Into June twenty-two, 1899, adopting the closure of A lucky Coon, brand new ragtime music described of the Ann Charters due to the fact “a beneficial hodge-podge of everything regarding ‘coon’ range away from dollar-dancing and you can ragtime tunes so you can options throughout the grand opera,” Overton hitched George Walker; its commitment would change and elevate the fresh new cakewalk away from a core African-American people dance on a black colored modernist expression, a premier ways worthy of being performed prior to royalty, on light elite group, as well as on the newest show stage.
You to definitely evening if you find yourself onstage, George Walker, playing this new character away from Bud Jenkins, became ill
Williams and you can Walker’s Dahomey (1903) is actually one of the primary black musicals to uncover the new cakewalk’s conversion. With it, Aida (she altered the brand new spelling from her term from Ada to Aida, title of the Haitian lwa from fertility) played Rosetta Lightfoot with a highlighted unicamente, “I want to Getting a bona fide Lady,” in addition to “Cakewalk Finale,” hitched by their particular spouse. “The fresh range, the elegance, the newest hoping euphoria of those performers, just who curved over backward until the thoughts nearly handled the floor, a task requiring an unbelievable number of strength, the enthusiastic prancing, nearly for the slow-motion, haven’t already been equaled in this particular revel, let-alone exceeded,” published Carl Van Vechten (Van Vechten 1974). Dahomey are delivered to London area, where it actually was presented during the a demand show ahead of King Edward VII within Buckingham Palace. Uk high society used the latest Regal Family relations with a pouring love getting cakewalking. The organization returned to New york with a new variety of the brand new sounds titled Into the Dahomey, and therefore unsealed at the Huge Opera (1904).
In Williams and you will Walker’s 2nd inform you, Abyssinia (1906), Overton Walker is actually one another a performer and the show’s choreographer. She was 2nd searched inside and you may staged the sounds number getting Bandanna Land (1908). Their episodes was indeed after recognized as syphilis. Inside the 1909 he kept the newest inform you, and his role was rewritten to have Overton Walker, exactly who donned their flashy gowns and you will done his numbers, and additionally their significant tune, “Bon-bon Buddie.” Together with her husband’s status slower extracting, and up against where her coming place, she chose not to replace their unique package with Williams and Walker and you will rather joined the throw from Bob Cole and J. Rosamonde Johnson’s This new Red-colored Moon (1909) in which she is seemed in two musical quantity: “Pheobe Brown” and you will “Pickaninny Weeks,” dance money-and-wing for the chorus. She second open at the This new York’s Western Theater which have good vaudeville operate featuring a separate dancing, the new “Kara Kara,” otherwise moving l’Afrique.