Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Fashionable Gilded Age Entertainer

Preferring to be called, “Madame Jones,” critics had dubbed her “the Black Patti” after the Italian/French opera singer, Adelina Patti. She once told a reporter that the name “rather annoys me... I am afraid people will think I consider myself the equal to Patti herself. I assure you I don't think so, but I have a voice and I am striving to win the favor of the public by honest merit and hard work.” In February of 1892, Jones performed at the White House for President Benjamin Harrison, which led to her eventually singing for four consecutive presidents — Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt — and even the British royal family. Sadly, for three of her White House performances, Jones had to enter the building through the back door, but by the Roosevelt administration, she was finally allowed to enter through the front door.

The Popularity of the “Black Patti”
A performance by Madame Sissieretta Jones, the “Black Patti,” has become a fad in the most fashionable circles recently. It’s been only a few weeks since she sang for the “Four Hundred” at the residence of Judge Andrews on Fifth Avenue, receiving $200 for her services. At the present time she is doing concert work in the southwest, in company with the Princess Dolgorouky, the violinist. Mrs. Jones was the guest of ex-Postmaster General Wanamaker at Washington, and she appeared at the White House before President Cleveland and his wife. At the present time she is in receipt of a salary of §400 per week, and it is probable that she will command twice that sum, before she is a year older. —New York Times, 1893

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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