Because a child she obtained dance instruction from an excellent Mrs. Thorp into the midtown New york. Around 1897, immediately following graduating from Thorp’s moving college or university, she toured briefly which have Black colored Patti’s Troubadours. An excellent girlfriend enjoy her to help you model to possess an advertisement having Bert Williams and you will George Walker, who had only obtained a hit in their vaudeville first from the Koster and you can Bial’s Tunes Hallway. She agreed to design towards advertising and subsequently joined the fresh dudes to moving from the cakewalk finale. Immediately following joining John W. Isham’s Octoroon, an effective critic into the Indianapolis Freeman declared, “I experienced merely noticed the most effective girl dancer.” With Grace Halliday she shaped the latest sister moving work out-of Overton and Halliday. They did since set of Honolulu Belles on Williams and Walkers’ The policy Users (1899), and you can from that point, Overton started to create since good soloist with substantial spots. On the sounds funny New Sons off Ham (1900) she performed and danced “Skip Hannah from Savannah” and you will “Best Woman”; as well as in their next edition, “Society” and you may “Gleaming Ruby” which delivered their particular jubilant acclaim. James Weldon Johnson had written that she “got a minimal-pitched voice that have an organic sob so you can it, which she understood ways to use having advising impression within the putting more a tune” (Johnson 1933). Tom Fletcher remembered their own since the a musician which performed ragtime tunes and you can ballads as well; and also as a performer “just who you may would every little thing, and no amount in the event it is actually buck-and-side, cakewalk, if not some form of grotesque moving . . . she borrowed the latest overall performance a nice gracefulness of motion unparalleled from the anyone” (Fletcher 1954).
Into the 1910, she joined brand new Smart Place, a black theatrical business, and you can appeared in His Award the new Barber (1911)
Toward Summer twenty two, 1899, adopting the closing regarding A fortunate Coon, the newest ragtime audio described by Ann Charters given that “an excellent hodge-podge of all things in the ‘coon’ line off dollars-moving and you can ragtime tunes so you’re able to choices regarding the huge opera,” Overton married George Walker; the partnership manage change and you may intensify the brand new cakewalk out-of a core African-American individuals dance toward a black modernist expression, a top art worth being did before royalty, on white elite, as well as on the fresh concert stage.
One nights while onstage, George Walker, to relax and play the brand new character out-of Bud Jenkins, turned into sick
Williams and you may Walker’s Dahomey (1903) are one of the first black colored musicals to learn the brand new cakewalk’s conversion process. On it, Aida (she changed the new spelling away from their own term out-of Ada so you can Aida, the name of one’s Haitian lwa out of virility) played Rosetta Lightfoot which have a featured solo, “I wish to End up being a bona fide Woman,” and also the “Cakewalk Finale,” married because of the their spouse. “This new line, the fresh grace, the new assured euphoria ones performers, whom curved over backwards up to its brains nearly moved a floor, a task demanding a great amount of electricity, their enthusiastic prancing, nearly inside slow-motion, never have become equaled in this revel, let-alone exceeded,” typed Carl Van Vechten (Van Vechten 1974). Dahomey was delivered to London area, where it absolutely was shown in the an order efficiency just before King Edward VII during the Buckingham Palace. British high-society accompanied this new Regal Family unit members with a beneficial pouring desire having cakewalking. The business returned to Ny with a new kind of new musical called In the Dahomey, and this exposed from the Huge Opera (1904).
During the Williams and you will Walker’s second show, Abyssinia (1906), Overton Walker was both a performer additionally the show’s choreographer. She is 2nd searched within the and you may staged brand new music number for Bandanna Residential property (1908). Their symptoms had been after diagnosed given that syphilis. Within the 1909 the guy leftover this new let you know, with his character try rewritten for Overton Walker, who donned his flashy clothes and you may performed his wide variety, also his significant song, “Bon-bon Buddie.” Together with her partner’s standing reduced deteriorating, and you will facing in which their own future lay, she selected not to ever replenish their own bargain which have Williams and you may Walker and you will instead registered the latest throw out-of Bob Cole and you may J. Rosamonde Johnson’s This new Yellow Moon (1909) in which Espanja-naisten avioliitto she is checked in two audio quantity: “Pheobe Brownish” and you may “Pickaninny Days,” dancing dollars-and-side with the chorus. She 2nd started at The newest York’s American Theater having a beneficial vaudeville operate offering a different sort of dance, brand new “Kara Kara,” otherwise moving l’Afrique.