-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=1.0" : "width=1100"' name='viewport'/> Plum Street Chili: Dirty Blues Sunday #4 - Bessie Smith

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dirty Blues Sunday #4 - Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith earned the title of “Empress of the Blues” by virtue of her forceful vocal delivery. She often sang without a microphone and her voice could fill the largest hall. Bessie Smith danced, acted and performed comedy routines with her touring company. She was the highest-paid Black performer of her day.

Bessie Smith, aka Elizabeth Smith, was born April 15 1898?, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She died September 26, 1937, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, from injuries sustained in a road accident. It was said that, had she been white, she would have received earlier medical treatment, thus saving her life, and Edward Albee made this the subject of his play The Death of Bessie Smith (1960).

Empty Bed Blues is the song I think of when I hear her name. Bessie Smith did not scorn the Dirty Blues. These songs were standards in every blind pig and juke joint in the South and North.

Bessie Smith sang with most Jazz and Blues musicians of the era. Bessie Smith with Orchestra (Louis Armstrong -- cornet, Fred Longshaw, harmonium) -- St. Louis Blues, Parlophone ca 1935 (British re-edition of the US Columbia, MX 140241 from 1925)

Bessie Smith's only film appearance 1929. This is the complete film co-starring Jimmy Mordecai as her gigolo boyfriend. This film fell into the public domain in 1958 due to lack of copyright renewal.

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