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Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) was an African-American blues singer widely renowned during the Jazz Age. Nicknamed the "Empress of the Blues", she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1930s. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, she is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and was a major influence on fellow blues singers, as well as jazz vocalists.

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Smith was young when her parents died, and she and her six siblings survived by performing on street corners. She began touring and performed in a group that included Ma Rainey, and then went out on her own. Her successful recording career with Columbia Records began in 1923, but her performing career was cut short by a car crash that killed her at the age of 43.

Birth and Death Data: Born April 15, 1894 (Chattanooga), Died September 26, 1937 (Clarksdale)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1923 - 1933

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, composer, lyricist, leader, songwriter

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 191 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia 80862 10-in. 2/15/1923 'Tain't nobody's biz-ness if I do Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 80863 10-in. 2/15/1923 Down hearted blues Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 80864 10-in. 2/16/1923 Gulf Coast blues Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 80865 10-in. 2/16/1923 Keeps on a-rainin' Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 80949 10-in. 4/11/1923 Aggravatin' papa Down Home Trio ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental trio leader, vocalist  
Columbia 80950 10-in. 4/11/1923 Beale Street mamma Down Home Trio ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental trio leader, vocalist  
Columbia 80952 10-in. 4/11/1923 Baby won't you please come home blues Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 80953 10-in. 4/11/1923 Oh daddy blues Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano (takes 1-3); with clarinet, banjo, and piano (takes 4 and 5) vocalist  
Columbia 80995 10-in. 4/28/1923 Mama's got the blues Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 80996 10-in. 4/28/1923 Outside of that Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81074 10-in. 6/14/1923 Sittin' on the curbstone blues Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81075 10-in. 6/14/1923 Bleeding hearted blues Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81078 10-in. 6/14/1923 Lady-luck blues Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81079 10-in. 6/14/1923 Yodeling blues Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81080 10-in. 6/15/1923 Midnight blues Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81091 10-in. 6/21/1923 Play 'em for mama, sing 'em for me blues Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81092 10-in. 6/21/1923 If you don't I know who will Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81095 10-in. 6/22/1923 Nobody in town can bake a sweet jelly roll like mine Fletcher Henderson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81225 10-in. 9/21/1923 Dot 'em down blues Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81226 10-in. 9/21/1923 Jailhouse blues Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano songwriter, vocalist  
Columbia 81231 10-in. 9/24/1923 St. Louis gal Irving Johns ; Jimmy Jones ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo, with 2 pianos vocalist  
Columbia 81232 10-in. 9/24/1923 Sam Jones' blues Irving Johns ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81237 10-in. 9/26/1923 Graveyard dream blues Jimmy Jones ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo, with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81238 10-in. 9/26/1923 Blue Bessie (the bluest gal in Tennessee) Jimmy Jones ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo, with piano vocalist  
Columbia 81241 10-in. 9/26/1923 Cemetery blues Jimmy Jones ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo, with piano vocalist  
(Results 1-25 of 191 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Smith, Bessie," accessed April 15, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104231.

Smith, Bessie. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104231.

"Smith, Bessie." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 15 April 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104231

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