[N.p., likely Boston. n.d., ca. 1896]. Illustrated broadsheet, 14 1/2 x 10 1/4 inches. Uniformly toned. Mild edge wear, a few short closed edge tears, soft horizontal center fold, a few tiny chips and soft creases. Faint ink advertising stamp in top margin. Very good overall. Item #WRCAM55355
An unrecorded illustrated broadsheet advertising the "Grand Consolidation" of the Virginia and Texas Jubilee Singers and the original Alabama Troubadours, both rather obscure minstrel troupes managed by C.H. Perkins, an African-American tenor from North Carolina. The Celebrated Colored Virginia and Texas Jubilee Singers were organized between 1876 and 1882 by Perkins, himself a tenor who had earlier performed with the North Carolina Jubilee Singers. The Virginian performers were made up largely of singers from Norfolk, while the Texas performers mostly hailed from Waco. The group was most active from about 1883 until about 1895. Perkins also founded a minstrel group composed of Alabama performers during this time, called the Alabama Troubadours, and this broadsheet advertises performances by all three groups together. Like his previous group, and though composed mostly of southern African-American artists, Perkins' original Alabama Troubadours performed mostly in New England in the 1890s and early-20th century, specifically Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts, though advertisements for them go back at least to 1891 in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are not to be confused with a slightly later minstrel group by the same name, managed by J.W. Gorman. The original Alabama Troubadours had moderate success putting on shows in churches, public halls, and other spaces, offering admission at 15 to 25 cents, with reserved seats available at 35 cents. The present broadsheet offers "Innocent Diversions of Slavery Days Faithfully Depicted" and "Darky Diversions in Dixies Land by Genuine Colored People" and performers such as Madame Perkins, the "'Southern Nightingale.' Prima Donna and Soprano Soloist." C.H. Perkins touts himself here as "The Great Tenor Songster, in his Tenor solos, Plantation Melodies, and Motto songs of the day." The troupe is composed of "15 Genuine Colored Artists...emancipated by President Lincoln's Proclamation." The faint ink stamp in the top margin advertises a performance for the troupe at the Westbrook Town Hall on Monday, February 21; the year was most likely 1898. The verso of the broadsheet advertises the group's "Old-Fashioned Cake Walk" by "A Band of Afro-American Celebrities" and other performers and performances enumerated as "Buck Dancers, Jubilee Singers, Banjoists, Plantation Dances, Specialists, Pickininny Dancers, Guitarists, Male and Female Quartettes, Old Time Plantation Scenes [and] Campmeeting Shouters." The five illustrations on the broadside show the Cake Walk, a trio of comedic minstrels, and three scenes of a group of performers in a plantation setting. The latter four illustrations are marked "Libbie Show Print, Boston" and are quite likely taken from photographs. Scant mention of the original Alabama Troubadours appears in periodicals of the time. The July 12, 1900 issue of THE MORNING JOURNAL-COURIER of New Haven praises the group as "without doubt the best colored organization now before the public." The September 19, 1899 issue of the Barre, Vermont EVENING TELEGRAM includes a brief mention of the troupe, describing them as "a company direct from the South and there is no better on the road." Also, Madame Perkins is pictured in the August 1900 issue of COLORED AMERICAN MAGAZINE above a caption reading, "Madame Perkins of Boston, Mass. A Soprano Singer of Professional Note." No copies of the present broadside appear in OCLC, nor in any source we can locate. A truly rare, and perhaps unique surviving record of the merging of two minstrel groups composed mostly of southern performers from Virginia, Texas, and Alabama, managed by an African-American tenor from North Carolina.