Kid and Coot was just one of the professional names this African American vaudeville duo went by; they were also known as Grant and Wilson, and Hunter and Jenkins. The team’s members were Wesley Wilson (1893-1958), a.k.a. Kid a.k.a. Socks a.k.a Jenkins a.k.a. Wilson a.k.a. Catjuice Charlie; and Leona B. Pettigrew (1893-1970), a.k.a Leona B. Henton a.k.a. Grant a.k.a. Patsy Hunter a.k.a Cutie a.k.a. Coot.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Leona was about seven when she began performing in black vaudeville. From around 1901 to 1911 she toured the U.S. , Europe and South Africa with Mayme Remington’s Pickaninnies. Her first professional partner/husband was Isaiah Grant, with whom she traveled from 1913 until his death in 1920. Later that year she formed a team and married Jacksonville musician Kid Wilson. Wilson played the piano and the organ; Grant sang, played guitar and danced. They also performed comedy crosstalk in a manner that contemporaries compared to Butterbeans and Susie. The couple co-wrote over 400 songs and appeared together and separately in vaudeville, musicals, revues, recordings, and at least one film, The Emperor Jones (1933). Grant performed on Blind Blake’s first recordings in 1926. The pair of them performed with Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Fletcher Henderson and others. Their tunes were recorded by the likes of Henderson and Bessie Smith. The pair were still going as a team into the late 1940s; by the ’50s, Grant was performing solo.
To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous
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