The Black Swan - Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield

Elizabeth Taylor-Greenfield 1817 - 1876

The Black Swan

The Black Swan, this was the name to Elizabeth Taylor-Greenfield by her numerous fans. An original musical diva who could effortlessly reach twenty-seven different musical notes.

In 1854 Ms.Taylor-Greenfield's career peaked when she performed before Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace in England, afterward the singer's popularity soared in Great Britain.

Born in Slavery

In 1819 Elizabeth Taylor was born in Natchez, Mississippi such humble beginnings left little reason to dream of any other life than what was there. Due to circumstances and Elizabeth's own tenacity she would enjoy fame and recognition here at home and abroad.

As a child Elizabeth was taken to Philadelphia by a Quaker who freed her slaves. Ms. Taylor continued to serve her former Mistress, who was her namesake, as maid and companion. She added the Mistress' last name to hers, hence her plain and comely appearance due to being raised by her Quaker owners.

Elizabeth also provided the entertainment for her elderly mistress, and upon her death Greenfield supported herself by giving public and private performances. Soon Greenfield gained fame and recognition in the Northeast for her performances and was dubbed "The Black Swan" by her many fans.

Black Divas - Book Written in 1900

Black Swan Record Label

A Career Ended to Soon

In 1853 Elizabeth Taylor Green-Field traveled to Europe for engagements in England, Scotland and Ireland, Unfortunately, her unscrupulous manager abandoned her and stole all the proceeds from her London appearance. Penniless Greenfield sought out a fellow countrywoman who was also traveling in England, Harriet Beecher Stowe. With Stowe's assistance Elizabeth was performing in front of English gentry. Afterward she was invited to Buckingham palace to sing for Queen Victoria.

Even with this popularity after her return to the states Elizabeth ran out of money and became a singing teacher to support herself. She sometimes traveled throughout the country raising funds for "colored' orphan and aged societies. After the civil war Elizabeth appeared alongside Frederick Douglass and Frances E.W. Harper at various social functions.

Two years after her death Philadelphia on March 31, 1876, Pace Phonograph Corporation founded by Harry Pace and W.C. Handy, changed the name of their company to "Black Swan Records", in her honor.

Information on the diva is hard to find. I've noted some papers and newspaper articles in this hub, but its sad, had she been born in another time and another place her fame would have been legendary. The original "Diva"

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Comments 8 comments

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

mquee and bladesofgrass: thank you both so very much for stopping by for a read and leaving your delightful comments. Sorry for my delayed response, been wrestling with some personal demons and I won. If nothing else the fight will make great hub material.

bladesofgrass profile image

bladesofgrass 6 years ago from The Fields of Iowa

What a wonderful Hub. I also had never heard of her and am saddened by her struggles. I am happy that Harry Pace and W.C. Hardy knew what a gem she truly was and changed the name, in her honor. Thanks for the great read. :)

mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

Very good and interesting article. I had never heard of this talented lady before, which makes me glad that I read this. Thanks for an interesting subject.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, Thank you for this info. I had never heard of her, and I always love reading about women that history has forgotten. great. thanks again nell

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

RevLady, Creative59 and Micky Dee thank you all so much for stopping by reading and commenting. I found it sad and a little dishearting that there isn't much information on this very talented women. Well I guess it is up to folks like us to keep her legend alive. Live well my friends, I am truly grateful for your input.

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Thank you for these history lessons. Very valuable. Keep them coming.

RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

Thanks PM. I agree that it is sad her career had to end the way it did. What is even sadder is that con people still exist. Great informational hub.

Forever His,

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Wonderful hub on The Black Swan- Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

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