The early career of the African American singer Matilda Sissieretta Jones (1868-1933), known as the "Black Patti," was unique in nineteenth-century America. Reviewers gave high praise to her singing, and she attracted large mixed-race audiences to her concerts across the country. Her fame was such that, during the early 1890s, she appeared as the star of several companies in which she was the only black performer. This article documents her early life in Portsmouth, Virginia, and Providence, Rhode Island; her two tours, in 1888 and 1890, to the Caribbean and South America; and her varied concert appearances in the United States and Europe up to the formation of the Black Patti Troubadours in the fall of 1896.

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