Known to be the Best Artists of her time:
Bessie Smith

Who was Bessie Smith ?

Bessie Smith was born as Elizabeth Smith, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Growing up, Bessie would sing on street corners and find places in the south to perform. She was striving to be a blues singer. Eventually, Bessie’s performances rose her to fame; she became very popular and was even the highest-paid African-American artist during her time. She had a very soulful and powerful voice people loved to hear in jazz and blues music. Many people considered her the best singer of her time.


Bessie’s lyrics were very sexual; she expressed many sexual emotions in her songs. However, blues was a form of secular music. Blues also was very emotional; it often talked about being brokenhearted and love and relationships. Bessie expressed this in her music; she just also was very sexual with most of her lyrics.

Highlights in her career

  • Bessie would go around and perform at theaters and street corners. It wasn’t until about 1920 though she got a reputation for herself and signed to Columbia Records. Around 1923, she got her debut with Columbia records; she had teamed up with a pianist Clarence Williams. They had recorded two songs together, and they were both hits. The songs were “Gulf Coast Blues” and “Down Hearted Blues,” selling over 750,000 records in just the first year of its release. 
  •  She then became the headliner at a theater named Theatre Owens Booking Association (T.O.B.A.). Many came to see her; she was the theaters’ most famous artist. She performs here a lot and performed other places when she wasn’t busy at the theater; This made her the highest-paid black entertainer of her day. 
  • Since her death, Bessie has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.

Thoughts on her career

I believe that Bessie Smith had a massive impact on not just blues but music in general. Her use of sexual lyrics showed women they could express sexual freedom in their songs. She also showed black women that they could sell out and make hits, too, just as male artists did. 

Performances by Bessie Smith


To conclude, Bessie Smith was a great blues singer, and even considered the queen of blues by some. She had plenty of hits and sold out many shows. She even became the highest-paid African American female artist of her time. Her impact on music was huge, and she influenced many artists after her.



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