Selika, Marie (née Smith)

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Selika, Marie (née Smith)

Selika, Marie (née Smith), black American soprano; b. Natchez, Miss., c. 1849; d. N.Y., May 19, 1937. She went to Cincinnati as a child and received music lessons at the expense of a wealthy white family. She pursued training with Bianchi in San Francisco, where she made her debut in 1876. After further studies with Farini in Chicago, she went to Boston in 1878 to continue her training. She made appearances as a concert artist, taking the professional name of Selika. In 1882 she went to England to complete her studies. After appearing at a command performance for Queen Victoria in 1882, she toured as a successful concert artist in Europe, the U.S., and the West Indies (1882–85; 1887–92). She married the tenor known as Signor Velosko (real name Sampson Williams), who often appeared in concerts with her. Her rendition of E. Mulder’s Polka Staccato led to her being dubbed the “Queen of Staccato.”.

—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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