Anita Patti Brown

There is difficulty finding records that tell exactly Anita Patti Brown was born but it is to believed to be in 1870.  She was a prominent recitalist from the 1900s to the 1920s but little is known about her early life, other than that she was born Patsy Dean in Georgia. She was raised in Chattanooga, TN and began her singing career in an AME church choir in Indianapolis. Showing an early aptitude for music, she sang in various church choirs and about 1900 moved to Chicago to further her studies. There she met and married Arthur A. Brown, a choral director who supported her interest in music. Brown won a scholarship to the Chicago Musical College and soon began her concert trips. After making her Chicago debut at the Chicago Opera House in 1903, Brown toured so extensively throughout the United States, Caribbean, and South America that she was dubbed by the black press "the glob-trotting prima donna." Another nickname was "The Bronze Tetrazzini," after the world famous Italian soprano Luisa Tetrazzini.

Some have called her the Rihanna of her day because she used her fame to create, advertise and sell her beauty products.  Though she acclaimed most of her fame in the black community was due to her music, she was still a pioneer of cosmetics for women of color.  You can still find early advertisements in black publications like The Crisis  and the NAACP’s quarterly magazine from that time period.  The advertisements were for Patti’s Beauty Emporium, “Patti's, Brazilian Toilette Luxuries.” The mail-order business sold perfumes, creams, and Patti’s “La Traviata” face powder for 68 cents.