A survey of the foremothers of Blues Music in the United States of America. Gain insight into their contribution to the music of artists like Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and SZA along with the performance of sexuality that many Black women experience and imple
Bessie Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 15, 1894. She began to sing at a young age and in 1923 signed a contract with Columbia Records. Soon she was among the highest-paid black performers of her time with hits like 'Downhearted Blues.' By the end of the 1920s, however, her popularity had lessened though she continued to perform and made new recordings at the start of the Swing Era. Her comeback and life were cut short when she died on September 26, 1936 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Bessie Smith’s subject matter was the classic material of the blues: poverty and oppression, love—betrayed or unrequited—and stoic acceptance of defeat at the hands of a cruel and indifferent world. The great tragedy of her career was that she outlived the topicality of her idiom. In the late 1920s her record sales and her fame diminished as social forces changed the face of popular music and bowdlerized the earthy realism of the sentiments she expressed in her music. Her gradually increasing alcoholism caused managements to become wary of engaging her, but there is no evidence that her actual singing ability ever declined.
What came out of Smith onstage grabbed people by the lapels and shook them up — not because she was new and different, but rather because she was so powerfully familiar. She sang about the kind of trouble that most people knew well, and her shouts and lamentations identified a depth of feeling that nearly everyone experiences, but would be hard-pressed to describe.
THE EMPRESS OF THE BLUES’ REIGN WAS DEFINITIVE, UNPRECEDENTED AND GLORIOUS. Bessie Smith was rare for many reasons—her musical apprenticeship under Ma Rainey, her songs about liberated women, her plainspoken style that foreshadowed rap—but nothing distinguished her more than her voice.
This book explores the relationship between three African American women's dance-art-music sensibilities within the context of a Pan African aesthetic. Its purpose is three-fold: to show commonalities between Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone's lives and original compositions; to codify, examine and evaluate their selected song performances in accordance with the Pan African aesthetic "Nzuri theory/model;" and to illuminate the vast sources of transformational values that aesthetic analysis of African American song performance can foster. Following concordant procedures and principles of Afrocentricity, the study focuses on Smith, Holiday and Simone's performances as part of a whole African artistic and cultural value system. The goal of the Afrocentric methodological structure is to locate relevant African dynamics in songs and to promote knowledge for cultural transformation and continuity. Its use in this study provides meta-criteria for analyzing African American music, which the author has used to uniquely argue connections between African cultural memory and African-derived cultural expression.
In the OUT LINES series, a biography of blues singer Bessie Smith which examines her artistic success and personal tragedies, provides information about her lesbian affairs and unhappy marriage and considers how these factors influenced her music.
Alexander's ragtime band -- Gin house blues -- Careless love blues -- Nobody's blues but mine -- What's the matter now? -- Baby doll -- Hard time blues -- After you've gone -- At the Christmas ball -- Young woman's blues -- Florida bound blues -- I've benn mistreated -- Jazzbo Brown from Memphis town -- My man blues -- Gift of Jo Coffee.