Black Women significantly contributed to the sound of the blues once the genre began to take off during the 1920s with the establishment of record companies. As black men posed as a threat to white people, black women were the face of the blues. Female blues singers used their music as an outlet express themselves and discuss common life situations that most women could relate to. The stories and emotions of women lived through the blues . Bessie Smith in particular was a one of the first blues superstars whose sound exemplified the blues genre.
Bessie Smith was born on April 15th, 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After the death of her parents, Smith was raised by her aunt which was when she began as a street singer accompanied by her guitar playing brothers. In 1912, Smith began to perform as a dancer in the Moses Stokes minstrel shows and later at numerous theaters where blues singer Ma Rainey perfumed.
In 1923, Smith was discovered by a representative from Columbia Records with whom she signed her first contract with and began making her first song recordings. Her first track entitled “Downtown Blues” began widely popular and propelled her into the Blues spotlight. Smith’s powerful voice made her into a successful artist who toured the country spreading the sound of the Blues.
One of Smith’s most popular record was released in 1929 entitled “Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out”.
Similar to other popular African-American women blues artist like Ma Rainey and Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith was a pioneer of the blues genre. Her rich voice and sound touched thousands of audiences across the country. Their contributions to blues is significant because their music spoke to not only many audiences but greatly exemplified the essence of the blues. The blues spoke of the here and now. Female blues artist used this to sing about present hardships faced on a daily which allowed for audiences to enjoy and relate to the songs. Bessie Smith is one of the many female Blues artists who left a permeant imprint on the Blues and helped to drive the genre to new heights in popular culture.
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