Kitty Sharpe's Champion

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KITTY SHARPE'S CHAMPION (JIG). American, 'Sand' Dance (cut time). G Major ('A' & 'B' parts), C Major ('C' part) & E Minor or G Major ('D' part). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDDEE (Cole): AA'BB'CC'DE. The tune would seem to be an expansion of a two-part melody published as the "Inimitable Reel" in Ryan's and later by Francis O'Neill as "Everybody's Fancy." In Ryan's, it is labeled a 'jig,' referring to a type of syncopated old time banjo and fiddle tune in 2/4 or 2/2 time rather than the more familiar Irish 6/8, 9/8 or 12/8 jigs. Kitty Sharpe (or Sharp, both spellings were used throughout her career) was the stage name of Kitty Schaab (1855-1945), a Manhattan-born singer and dancer. She began her career in 1863 with her sister Dolly Lang as one of the "flying angels" in the popular musical production The Black Crook at Niblo's Garden, and was active in the circus and on the variety stage until 1896. She performed for years with her husband, the English-born clown and acrobat Edwin "Eddie" Fritz (whose real name was Smith), and his partner James Cassim. Sharpe and Fritz continued their career with Barnum & Bailey, for whom Fritz became principal clown. In 1883 they established a residence in Saratoga Springs, where Kitty raised a daughter and three sons, one of whom, Eddie Smith, became a prominent music hall performer in England. Sharpe was particularly noted for her performances of the "sand jig," danced as a series of slides and shuffles on a sand-strewn stage. The tune named for her bears a distinct stylistic resemblance to "Kitty O'Neil's Champion," which was named for another famous sand jigger, and which also first appeared in Ryan's collection. Both tunes may well have been composed by the same anonymous hand.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 84. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 2), c. 1880's; no. 426, p. 48. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 84.

Recorded sources:

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