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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 151-175 of 191 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia W146896 10-in. 8/25/1928 Please help me get him off my mind Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with trombone and piano composer, lyricist, vocalist  
Columbia W146897 10-in. 8/25/1928 Me and my gin Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with trombone and piano vocalist  
Columbia W148485 10-in. 5/8/1929 I'm wild about that thing Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with guitar and piano vocalist  
Columbia W148486 10-in. 5/8/1929 You've got to give me some Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with guitar and piano vocalist  
Columbia W148487 10-in. 5/8/1929 Kitchen man Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with guitar and piano vocalist  
Columbia W148533 10-in. 5/15/1929 I got what it takes (But it breaks my heart to give it away) Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental quintet vocalist  
Columbia W148534 10-in. 5/15/1929 Nobody knows you when you're down and out Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental quintet vocalist  
Columbia W148854 10-in. 7/25/1929 Take it right back ('Cause I don't want it here) Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W148855 10-in. 7/25/1929 What makes me love you so? Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W148901 10-in. 8/20/1929 My sportin' man Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W148902 10-in. 8/20/1929 He's got me goin' James P. Johnson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W148903 10-in. 8/20/1929 When my baby comes Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W148904 10-in. 8/20/1929 It makes my love come down James P. Johnson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano lyricist, composer, vocalist  
Columbia W149074 10-in. 10/1/1929 Wasted life blues James P. Johnson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano lyricist, composer, vocalist  
Columbia W149075 10-in. 10/1/1929 Dirty no-gooder's blues James P. Johnson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano composer, lyricist, vocalist  
Columbia W149134 10-in. 10/11/1929 Blue spirit blues James P. Johnson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W149135 10-in. 10/11/1929 Worn out papa blues James P. Johnson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W149136 10-in. 10/11/1929 You don't understand James P. Johnson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W149137 10-in. 10/11/1929 Don't cry, baby James P. Johnson ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano vocalist  
Columbia W150131 10-in. 3/27/1930 Keep it to yourself Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W150132 10-in. 3/27/1930 New Orleans hop scop blues Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W150458 10-in. 4/12/1930 See if I'll care Charlie Green ; Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with trombone and piano vocalist  
Columbia W150459 10-in. 4/12/1930 Baby, have pity on me Charlie Green ; Bessie Smith ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with trombone and piano vocalist  
Columbia W150574 10-in. 6/9/1930 On revival day Bessemer Singers ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with male vocal quartet and piano vocalist  
Columbia W150575 10-in. 6/9/1930 Moan, you mourners Bessemer Singers ; Bessie Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with male vocal quartet and piano vocalist  
(Results 151-175 of 191 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Smith, Bessie," accessed April 16, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104231.

Smith, Bessie. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved April 16, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104231.

"Smith, Bessie." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 16 April 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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