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Hal Leonard


Celebrated son of Mt. Vernon New York


Dan Emmet is best remembered today as one of the pioneers of the early Minstrel Shows with his compositions “The Blue Tail Fly”, “My Old Aunt Sally” and most notably, “Dixie”. His own company was instrumental in establishing many of the early minstrel routines and rituals, including the traditional costume of blue, swallow tailcoat, striped calico shirt, and the white pantaloons. A large group of minstrel show competitors were formed due to the great success of his shows.

Daniel Decatur Emmett was born on October 29, 1815 in Mount Vernon, Ohio and learned to play the violin, as a young boy. At the age of 15, he first performed his composition “Old Dan Tucker” during a Fourth of July celebration on the village green in Mount Vernon. He worked in his father's blacksmith shop and at 17 enlisted in the Army. He was discharged on July 8, 1835 after the Army learned he had falsified his age to enlist. He left home soon after to join the Spalding and Rogers circus as a drummer. It was with the circus that Emmett learned the technique of Negro impersonation and shortly thereafter, he got a job with the Thomas "Daddy" Rice minstrel troupe, in which he played the banjo, and also sang.

In 1842, Emmett formed his own Virginia Minstrels Troupe, making their debut in New York City's at the Bowery Amphitheater on February 6, 1843. In the year of 1844, "Old Dan Tucker" and "My Old Aunt Sally" were introduced in the Virginia Minstrels troupe. The troupe traveled to England meeting very little success and arrived back in the States,…

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Public Domain

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