Mary Blane

Title: 
Mary Blane
Type: 
Song
Description: 

[Alternately: “Mary Blain”]



To listen to this song (and others) on the Artists Respond to Juba Site, Click Here and/or Here.



In actual fact, there are multiple versions of the same song, all of which are credited to different composers and lyricists. While some credit the “original” music and lyrics to Billy Whitlock (1813-1878) of the Virginia Minstrels, there are published editions of the song that credit the lyrics to Wellington Guernsey (1817-1855) and music to George Barker (dates unknown) and others still that credit the lyrics to Francis Germon (dates unknown) of the Ethiopian Serenaders and the music to Charles T. White (dates unknown). Winans records that Whitlock’s version first appeared as early as 1846 (2). Other versions still credit both lyrics and music to the aforementioned Mr. White. Due to the large number of extant versions of the song, it is difficult to determine what, if any, common lyrical conceit there may have been. According to Mahar, while the range of comic texts for the song is quite vast, it stands as the most popular of all minstrel “laments” for a lost lover (284).



Given the number of extant texts, it is also difficult to determine which version would have served as the (if there was such a thing in this instance) most popular manifestation of the song. Likewise, it is equally difficult to determine whether or not any of the song’s musical settings remained popular after the period. It is perhaps more appropriate to think of “Mary Blane” as archetypal conceit in the context of minstrelsy. For a fuller consideration of the song along these lines, see Mahar pp. 283-297. While not immensely popular today, versions of the song are staples within the early American banjo canon. It has been recorded at least three times within the past thirty years.



Select Recording History:

  • The Freestaters. Watch the Ring Tailed Monkey Dance. Self-released, 2007.


  • Hudson Jr., Carl O. Come From Old Virginny! Early Virginia Banjo Music 1790-1860. Label unknown, 2003.


  • Winans, Robert, music director and program consultant. The Early Minstrel Show. New World Records, 1998.



    Works Cited:
  • Mahar, William J. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture. Chicago: Illinois UP, 1999.


  • Winans, Robert B. Liner notes. The Early Minstrel Show. Performed by Matthew Heumann, Percy Denforth, Robert Winans & Vincent Tuffo. New World Records, 1985.


    Mark Turner


  • Media: 
    Sheet Music Cover
    Lyrics
    Audio File - Minstrels in the Parlour

    Performance(s) listed of this act

    Performer(s) Troupe Event and Venue

    Harrington, George
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 30 May. 1846 - 30 May. 1846
    Chiswick House, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 09 Jun. 1846 - 13 Jun. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 10 Jun. 1846 - 10 Jun. 1846
    Horns, The, Kennington, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 12 Jun. 1846 - 12 Jun. 1846
    Green Man, Blackheath, London (city-county)

    Harrington, George
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 29 Jun. 1846 - 04 Jul. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 06 Jul. 1846 - 11 Jul. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 13 Jul. 1846 - 18 Jul. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 20 Jul. 1846 - 25 Jul. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 27 Jul. 1846 - 01 Aug. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)

    Harrington, George
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 03 Aug. 1846 - 08 Aug. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)

    Harrington, George
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Dramatic, 08 Sep. 1846 - 09 Sep. 1846
    Theatre Royal, Bristol, Bristol (city-county) in Gloucestershire
    Ethiopian Serenaders (Van Dwyer, 1846) Minstrel Show, 07 Nov. 1846 - 07 Nov. 1846
    Music Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne (city-county) in Northumberland

    Sherwood
    Ethiopian Harmonists (1846-47) Minstrel Show, 06 Mar. 1847 - 08 Mar. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Cora
    Female American Serenaders Dramatic, 05 Apr. 1847 - 05 Apr. 1847
    Queen's Theatre, Lancashire

    Cora
    Female American Serenaders Dramatic, 06 Apr. 1847 - 06 Apr. 1847
    Queen's Theatre, Lancashire

    Cora
    Female American Serenaders Dramatic, 07 Apr. 1847 - 10 Apr. 1847
    Queen's Theatre, Lancashire

    Cora
    Female American Serenaders Dramatic, 14 Apr. 1847 - 15 Apr. 1847
    Queen's Theatre, Lancashire

    Cora
    Female American Serenaders Minstrel Show, 21 Apr. 1847 - 24 Apr. 1847
    St. James Assembly Rooms, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 03 May. 1847 - 08 May. 1847
    Strand Theatre, London (city-county)

    Sherwood
    Ethiopian Harmonists (1846-47) Minstrel Show, 15 May. 1847 - 15 May. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire
    Minstrel Show, 26 Jun. 1847 - 26 Jun. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire
    Ethiopian Delineators (not Pelham's, 1847) Minstrel Show, 10 Jul. 1847 - 10 Jul. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Levison
    Ethiopian Melodists and New York Serenaders Minstrel Show, 21 Sep. 1847 - 24 Sep. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Levison
    Ethiopian Melodists and New York Serenaders Minstrel Show, 27 Sep. 1847 - 01 Oct. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Collins, John H.
    Ethiopian Harmonists (1847-?) Minstrel Show, 01 Nov. 1847 - 05 Nov. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Collins, John H.
    Ethiopian Harmonists (1847-?) Minstrel Show, 13 Nov. 1847 - 13 Nov. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Collins, John H.
    Ethiopian Harmonists (1847-?) Minstrel Show, 15 Nov. 1847 - 19 Nov. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Williamson, W.J.
    Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847) Minstrel Show, 06 Dec. 1847 - 11 Dec. 1847
    Town Hall, Brighton, Sussex

    Valintine, J.W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 31 Oct. 1848 - 03 Nov. 1848
    Music Hall, Sheffield, Yorkshire: West Riding

    Valintine, J.W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 21 Dec. 1848 - 22 Dec. 1848
    Theatre Royal, Birmingham, Warwickshire

    Valintine, J.W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 04 Jun. 1849 - 08 Jun. 1849
    Sadler's Wells, London (city-county)