Since the an infant she received dancing training away from a good Mrs. Thorp from inside the midtown New york. To 1897, just after graduating off Thorp’s moving university, she toured briefly that have Black Patti’s Troubadours. An effective girlfriend welcome their particular so you’re able to design for a marketing having Bert Williams and George Walker, who had just scored a hit within their vaudeville first at Koster and you may Bial’s Music Hall. She offered to model on offer and you may next registered the new dudes to help you moving regarding cakewalk finale. Once signing up for John W. Isham’s Octoroon, an excellent critic into the Indianapolis Freeman declared, “I had just observed the most effective girl dancer.” With Grace Halliday she shaped the cousin dancing act regarding Overton and Halliday. It performed just like the collection of Honolulu Belles on Williams and Walkers’ The policy Members (1899), and from that point, Overton started to write while the a beneficial soloist with an increase of large jobs. Regarding the tunes funny The latest Sons of Ham (1900) she done and you will danced “Skip Hannah regarding Savannah” and you may “Leading Lady”; as well as in their second edition, “Society” and you may “Gleaming Ruby” hence lead her jubilant recognition. James Weldon Johnson composed that she “had a low-pitched sound that have an organic sob to it, and therefore she realized how to use having informing impression during the placing over a tune” (Johnson 1933). Tom Fletcher recalled their unique while the a musician exactly who performed ragtime music and you can ballads as well; so when a dancer “which could would every little thing, without matter if it try buck-and-wing, cakewalk, otherwise some kind of grotesque dance . . . she borrowed the fresh new efficiency a cool gracefulness of motion unparalleled because of the anyone” (Fletcher 1954).
Towards the Summer twenty-two, 1899, after the closure regarding A fortunate Coon, the newest ragtime music discussed because of the Ann Charters since the “an excellent hodge-podge of the things regarding the ‘coon’ line of money-moving and you may ragtime melodies so you can selection regarding grand opera,” Overton married George Walker; their relationship manage changes and escalate the new cakewalk regarding a center African-Western men moving toward a black colored modernist expression, a leading art worth are did before royalty, towards white elite, and on the latest concert stage.
Williams and you can Walker’s Dahomey (1903) are one of the primary black musicals to learn the newest cakewalk’s transformation. Inside, Aida (she changed the fresh new spelling out of their particular label out-of Ada in order to Aida, title of Haitian Klikk for mer lwa regarding fertility) played Rosetta Lightfoot which have a presented solo, “I want to Be a genuine Lady,” and also the “Cakewalk Finale,” married by the their unique spouse. “The new line, brand new elegance, the new in hopes euphoria of these performers, which curved over backward until the minds nearly touched the floor, a feat demanding an amazing amount of power, their enthusiastic prancing, nearly in the slow-motion, have not already been equaled in this particular revel, aside from exceeded,” authored Carl Van Vechten (Van Vechten 1974). Dahomey is actually taken to London, in which it absolutely was showed within a demand show before Queen Edward VII on Buckingham Castle. United kingdom high-society then followed the Regal Family unit members which have an effective gushing desire getting cakewalking. The company returned to Nyc with a brand new style of the newest music called During the Dahomey, and this started in the Huge Opera (1904).
In Williams and you will Walker’s 2nd let you know, Abyssinia (1906), Overton Walker was one another a performer plus the show’s choreographer. She is next appeared in the and you will staged the latest sounds wide variety for Bandanna Home (1908). His episodes have been afterwards recognized as the syphilis. In the 1909 the guy remaining the fresh show, and his awesome part was rewritten to possess Overton Walker, who donned his showy gowns and you can sang their number, together with his big song, “Bon-bon Buddie.” With her partner’s reputation slow breaking down, and you can up against where their particular upcoming place, she selected to not replenish her offer which have Williams and you may Walker and rather inserted the brand new shed out of Bob Cole and you may J. Rosamonde Johnson’s The fresh Purple Moonlight (1909) where she is searched in two audio numbers: “Pheobe Brown” and “Pickaninny Days,” dance dollar-and-side to your chorus. She second established at the New York’s Western Movie theater with an effective vaudeville work featuring another type of dance, the latest “Kara Kara,” otherwise dancing l’Afrique.