Dearest Mae


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Dearest Mae

[Alternately: “Dearest May,” “Mae, Dearest Mae”]

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

Brown suggests the music was either composed by L.V.H. Crosby (c.1824-1884) or James Power (?-1890) (269), but an 1847 edition of the song credits Power with the composition and Crosby with the arrangement for piano forte. Mahar attributes the music to Crosby in 1847 (319). Lyrics Francis Lynch (n.d.). As Mahar suggests, the song belongs to a larger constellation of minstrel songs dealing with the premature death of a spouse, “Lucy Neal” being an obvious comparison. Like “Lucy Neal,” the present song is also structured as a reminiscence, but unlike its counterpart it makes no overt mention of the death of the eponymous character.

Compared to other minstrel songs performed during the period, the popularity of this song is uncertain. As you will notice, a search for the song in the database reveals only one confirmed performance. By way of comparison, however, the song seems to have been published at least four times during the mid-nineteenth century, one of which is a polka arrangement (E. Ferrett and Co., 1849). The song did not retain any of its popularity into the twentieth century, evidenced in part by the lack of any recorded versions (none could be located at the time of this writing). Readers are encouraged to listen to the version of this song recorded as part of Minstrels in the Parlour, available on the Artists Respond to Juba site that is attached to this database.

Works Cited:

  • Brown, Frank C. The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore; the folklore of North Carolina, collected by Dr. Frank C. Brown during the years 1912 to 1943, in collaboration with the North Carolina Folklore Society. 7 vols. Durham: Duke UP, 1952-1964.

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

    Mark Turner

  • Media: 
    Sheet Music Cover
    Sheet Music Cover #2
    Audio File - Minstrels in the Parlour

    Performance(s) listed of this act

    Performer(s) Troupe Event and Venue
    Dumbolton's Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 06 Dec. 1848 - 09 Dec. 1848
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)