Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DIXON, George Washington, comic singer, born about 1808; died in New Orleans, La., in March 1861. He first appeared in 1827 as a comedian, in small parts, at the amphitheatre in Albany, N. Y. In 1830, for the first time in that City, he assumed the character of a Negro minstrel, with the accompaniment of the banjo. Thence he went to New York, Philadelphia, and other large cities, singing his famous songs, "The CoalBlack Rose" and "Zip Coon," to admiring throngs. Dixon may justly be termed the pioneer of Negro minstrelsy. But he lacked enterprise and industry; his songs were without character, had little melody, and became timeworn. For years he produced nothing new, until he was supplanted by novelty. In 1839 he published in New York a weekly, called the "Polyanthos," and for a libel therein on Rev. Dr. Hawks he suffered six months' imprisonment. His life closed in a charity hospital.
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