Nettie Goff was an African-American trombone soloist and actress who toured the eastern and southern USA with a number of different minstrel shows in the 1890’s and 1900’s. With her husband, Will Garland, she also undertook various European tours.
Sadly, very little is known about the content of her actual performances, although she was a solo artist as well as a member of the various show brass bands, but she did have a very successful career, touring with a range of different companies.
The life of the travelling artist, in vaudeville or minstrel shows, moving from town to town on nearly a daily basis, must have been very difficult, and not many performers will have lasted more than a few years before other pressures and priorities made them seek a different course in life. However, some stayed the course and made it their life – those who made their name on the road often attracted other quality artists and built up respected and popular touring companies – some of which Nettie Goff was engaged with.
Perhaps the most famous of Nettie’s ’employers’ was Black Patti (Sissieretta Jones), a soprano vocalist who established her own company, famous throughout the USA.
The article below gives the details of Nettie’s life and the shows she was involved with, including her occasional forays across the Atlantic to Britain and Europe with her husband, Will Garland.