Since a baby she received dance instruction away from an excellent Mrs. Thorp inside the midtown Manhattan. Around 1897, shortly after graduating regarding Thorp’s dancing school, she toured temporarily having Black Patti’s Troubadours. A good girlfriend greet their particular so you’re able to model having an advertisement having Bert Williams and you can George Walker, who’d merely obtained a knock within vaudeville first within Koster and Bial’s Music Hallway. She offered to model with the advertising and you will then joined this new men so you’re able to dancing on cakewalk finale. Once joining John W. Isham’s Octoroon, an effective critic toward Indianapolis Freeman declared, “I’d simply noticed the greatest girl dancer.” With Elegance Halliday she formed brand new sibling dancing operate out-of Overton and Halliday. It performed just like the collection of Honolulu Belles throughout the Williams and you will Walkers’ The policy Udupi in India brides agency Users (1899), and you may from that point, Overton started to generate just like the a beneficial soloist with more substantial jobs. From the music funny The fresh new Sons out of Ham (1900) she sang and danced “Miss Hannah off Savannah” and you can “Top Woman”; along with their next version, “Society” and you can “Gleaming Ruby” and that lead their own jubilant recognition. James Weldon Johnson published that she “had a low-pitched voice which have a natural sob in order to they, and this she knew how to use with advising impression for the putting more a song” (Johnson 1933). Tom Fletcher recalled their because an artist just who did ragtime tunes and you can ballads as well; and also as a dancer “exactly who you will would everything, without amount in the event it is money-and-wing, cakewalk, or even some form of grotesque dance . . . she lent the newest results a nice gracefulness of motion unsurpassed from the anyone” (Fletcher 1954).
During the 1910, she joined new Wise Set, a black colored theatrical providers, and starred in Their Award this new Hairdresser (1911)
Into the Summer twenty two, 1899, following the closure out of A fortunate Coon, the latest ragtime songs described by Ann Charters because “a good hodge-podge of the things regarding ‘coon’ line away from dollars-dancing and you may ragtime melodies in order to alternatives from the grand opera,” Overton hitched George Walker; the commitment would change and you may escalate new cakewalk from a core African-American group dance to your a black modernist term, a leading art worthy of being did ahead of royalty, to the white top-notch, as well as on the new concert stage.
One to nights when you are onstage, George Walker, to tackle the part out of Bud Jenkins, turned sick
Williams and you can Walker’s Dahomey (1903) was among the first black colored musicals to realize new cakewalk’s conversion process. In it, Aida (she altered the latest spelling out of her label of Ada to help you Aida, the name of Haitian lwa off virility) played Rosetta Lightfoot which have a highlighted solamente, “I do want to Feel a bona-fide Woman,” in addition to “Cakewalk Finale,” hitched by their own partner. “The fresh line, the brand new grace, the latest hoping euphoria of these performers, just who curved more than backward up until its thoughts nearly moved a floor, a feat demanding an incredible level of strength, their enthusiastic prancing, almost within the slow motion, have never started equaled in this particular revel, let alone surpassed,” composed Carl Van Vechten (Van Vechten 1974). Dahomey is delivered to London, in which it had been presented at a demand abilities in advance of King Edward VII during the Buckingham Palace. British high society used brand new Regal Members of the family with a good pouring warmth having cakewalking. The firm gone back to Nyc with a brand new type of the sounds called Inside the Dahomey, hence unwrapped on Grand Opera (1904).
Into the Williams and you may Walker’s 2nd reveal, Abyssinia (1906), Overton Walker are one another a performer plus the show’s choreographer. She is second searched inside the and you will staged the songs wide variety for Bandanna Home (1908). Their symptoms was basically after recognized once the syphilis. In 1909 the guy kept the newest inform you, and his awesome part are rewritten for Overton Walker, just who donned his showy attire and you can carried out their wide variety, in addition to their significant tune, “Bon-bon Buddie.” Along with her husband’s position slow extracting, and you may faced with where their own coming set, she selected to not ever replenish their own offer having Williams and Walker and you will rather entered the shed out-of Bob Cole and you can J. Rosamonde Johnson’s The newest Purple Moon (1909) in which she is seemed in 2 sounds wide variety: “Pheobe Brown” and “Pickaninny Days,” dancing money-and-wing toward chorus. She second opened in the The fresh York’s Western Theater which have a good vaudeville work offering a separate dancing, the “Kara Kara,” otherwise moving l’Afrique.