Sissieretta Jones

Sissieretta Jones

Birth
Portsmouth, Portsmouth City, Virginia, USA
Death 24 Jun 1933 (aged 64)
Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
Burial Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
Memorial ID 7173510 · View Source
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Opera Singer, Pioneer. Born Matilda S. Joyner in Portsmouth, Virginia, she was the daughter of Baptist minister. Her family moved to Providence, Rhode Island when she was seven years old to raise their children in a more cosmopolitan atmosphere than what was available at their present locale at the time. "Sissie's" voice, possibly inherited from her mother who was a soprano singer, was apparent at an early age,and she was encouraged by her parents to pursue her singing. At age fourteen she was accepted at the now defunct Providence School of Music and also attended training classes at The New England Conservatory in Boston. At this same young age she met and married her husband "David Richard Jones" a well known gambler and he managed he career as well as ran finances into the ground, She divorced him in 1900. Her stellar voice garnered her singing engagements at places like Madison Square Garden. Her performances were considered outstanding enough to have her compared to the great Italian opera singer Adelina Patti. A newspaper dubbed her "Black Patti." By 1893 she had sung at the Chicago World's Fair and for several presidents. In 1895 the "Black Patti Troubadours" were formed. The performed traveling minstrel shows. Initially she was not enthusiastic about doing "minstrel shows" but she would close each show with brilliant renditions of Opera and gospel music to which more critical acclaim was bestowed upon her. She used the popularity of her Troubadours to aid other African American musical and theatre artists in getting a start in show business. Her popularity spanned the globe and she received medals and lavish jewels and gifts form heads of state in many countries in gratitude for her performances. After twenty years, the group disbanded, Jones' mother was ailing and her career was at something of a standstill. While she sang for Presidents and Kings, her race prevented her from acceptance andan invitation to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.(In 1955 contralto Marian Anderson broke this racial barrier, 22 years after Jones' death.) Jones returned to the Wheaton Street family home to care for her mother. In the years to come she sold much of her expensive jewelry from her heyday to cover her living expenses. She was also known to take in homeless people as well as instruct and encourage local children in music appreciation and singing. Her death from cancer ended a career that was considered by many to be a pioneering effort to overcome racial barriers in operatic and classical music performance. Her story is taught as part of musical and historical curriculums nationwide.

Bio by: R. Digati


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Laurie
  • Added: 10 Feb 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7173510
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sissieretta Jones (5 Jan 1869–24 Jun 1933), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7173510, citing Grace Church Cemetery, Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .