These four African American women danced, sang, and played
banjos and were profoundly talented entertainers and impressive
entrepreneurs, whose own Stage
company would be the very springboard for many up and coming musical
and Stage luminaries to come. They would have anywhere from 20 to
30 performers in the show and had six to eight programs running
at any one time and always did a Shake Dance to Diga-diga-do.
Mabel (or May) successfully ran the production company (producer, manager and director.) She was
a voice of change in the racially corrupt practices and racial
segregation in vaudeville. In 1910 Mabel created her own troupe
of Picks (Pickaninny's) called Mabel Whitman and the Dixie Boys
while Mabel sang and the boys danced. Mabel was the first to quit
performing in the shows. May also coached the Picks in the shows.
who was a big-voiced comic-singer and labeled as a real coon shouter
at the time. Was in charge of designing and making the costumes
for the group. Essie retired in the late twenties and became preacher
at the Metropolitan Church.
(or Bert) who was an agile flash dancer also worked as a male
impersonator which in most of her acts and handled all the shows
finances. Was in charge of the Music end, and Composed much of
the Music that the group would use. Alberta did the "Strut"
as her dance act.
the youngest was regarded by many as the "Queen of Taps and
Champion Cakewalk dancer." Alice joined the group in 1909
and would sing and dance. She was praised by many for having a
fabulous figure as well. She did many dances of the day including
the Shim Sham Shimmy, Ballin' The Jack, Walkin' the Dog and the
Sand as well as the standards like Tap dance. Alice's son Albert
also joined the show and grew to become a great dancer in his