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Willa Mae Buckner - The Snake Lady

Updated November 9, 2000

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This is a page about my close friend, Willa Mae Buckner, who died on January 8, 2000 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Born in Augusta, Georgia, Willa began her show business career when she was 14 years old. She joined the Jimmy Simpson Minstrel Show and was later on many minstrel shows and carnivals. She also owned her own snake show. Besides The Snake Lady, she was also known as Princess Ejo, The Wild Enchantress and The Black Gypsy. Willa (short for Willie) once had a carnival sideshow called "Willie Mae Buckner's Snakes of the World." She worked many jobs on the carnivals including contortionist and fire-eater. Willa settled down and lived in New York for about twenty years where she worked day jobs while singing in neighborhood theatres and doing session work. She sometimes sang with the Ethel Lemon Singers; a gospel group. She finally went back to settle in Winston Salem, North Carolina where she drove a city bus for almost twelve years. Willa began recording as a blues singer for Music Maker Relief Foundation in the 90s and appeared at Carnegie Hall in 1994 on a program called "Circus Blues." She appeared at many other festivals and venues. If you ever saw Willa perform with the carnivals or knew her, please contact me. Go to the related link below for more information about The Snake Lady. A photo is included on the link.

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