Sample Lyric

"I Wants to Be a Actor Lady"

Music by Harry Von Tilzer

Lyrics by Vincent Bryan

This song was added to the score of the all-black musical In Dahomey for its London run in 1903. The work of two white Tin Pan Alley songwriters, it was a showstopper for black star Ada Overton Walker. Songs by white composers written in purportedly African-American dialect were referred to as "coon songs" -- an offensive label today, but socially acceptable in the early 20th Century.

If you are wondering about the topical references: Mrs. Leslie Carter was a leading dramatic actress, "Good Morning Carrie" was one of composer Von Tilzer's hit songs, Clyde Fitch was a popular playwright, and Laura Jean Libby was a romance novelist. The two quotes in the second verse may come from plays of the period – I have not been able to identify them.

Verse 1
Crazy for the stage was Carrie Brown,
She work'd in a dry-goods store uptown.
Ev'rytime a play opened on Broadway,;
In the gal'ry Carrie could be found.
Carrie could recite the maiden's prayer;
She could sing most any ragtime air.
Each day just after lunch
She would entertain the bunch,
And when they'd all applaud her she'd declare:

I wants to be a actor lady,
Star in the play,
Up on Broadway,
Spotlight for me, no back-row shady.
I'm the real thing,
I dance and sing.
Miss Carter she may play "Du Barry,"
But she can't sing "Good Morning, Carrie."
I wants to be a actor lady, too,
Indeed I do!

Verse 2
Carrie said that Shakespeare was a shine,
Clyde Fitch may be good, but not for mine.
There is Laura Jean Libby, she's a queen;
If she wrote a play I'd act it fine.
"Ha! the child's in London," then you say;
Them's the kind of parts I wants to play.
"Troskeena Wellington, you can't square what you have done!"
With lines like these I'd knock them on Broadway.

(Repeat Refrain)

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