BESSIE SMITH AND HER IMPACT ON BLUES
THE BEGINNING OF BLUES
Blues began in the black communities of the Deep South but it has its roots in Africa. It emerged in the Mississippi Delta in the beginning of the 20th century. The songs of blues expressed longing, desire, loss, and sorrow. Black intellectuals did not appreciate the realness of blues. They actually preferred jazz music, because they thought blues put down the black community.
WOMEN IN BLUES
Women in blues were very prominent. Black women were taken more seriously than men in blues. They were able to perform as themselves whereas men were treated as clowns. One of the most prominent singers in blues was Bessie Smith or better known by her nickname “Empress of the Blues”. Before she started singing she was first a dancer in Minstrel Shows. Not long after she took the stage and sang songs that expressed the woes of life as a black woman. She toured with minstrel shows and was paid $2,000 a week for her shows.