Brower, Frank [Brower, Francis Marion ]
- Sandra Jean Graham
[Brower, Francis Marion ]
(b Baltimore, MD, 20/Nov 30, 1820/1823; d Philadelphia, PA, June 4, 1874). American minstrel. His stage debut was in Philadelphia c1837. By spring 1840 he had teamed with dan Emmett , singing and dancing in blackface for the Cincinnati Circus Company. In July 1841 Brower began accompanying Emmett’s banjo songs on bones, pioneering the use of this folk instrument in professional entertainment. After a stint with Raymond and Waring’s Circus around 1841–2, the duo moved to New York. In early 1843 Brower, Emmett, billy Whitlock , and dick Pelham formed the Virginia minstrels , the first blackface minstrel troupe. Brower’s boisterous performances in “Southern Negro character” encompassed playing bones on the right end (which led to the formal role of endman), songs, stump speeches, conundrums (a circus genre), and breakdowns. Patterned on black practice, Brower’s dancing was distinctive for its jumps and leaps. He often danced while playing, his bones and feet creating a dense rhythmic texture, and he typically interrupted his dancing for brief comic dialogue. Brower and Pelham were considered premier dancers and were widely imitated by other minstrels, ...