Bessie Smith is one of the most influential jazz singers in history. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1894, Smith grew up in poverty and began performing on the streets as a child. She quickly gained a reputation as a talented singer, and in 1912, she began touring with the Moses Stokes Company, a traveling vaudeville troupe.
Smith’s powerful voice and emotional delivery quickly made her a sensation, and she soon became one of the most popular performers on the vaudeville circuit. In 1923, she signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and began recording some of her most famous songs, including “Downhearted Blues” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”
Despite her success, Smith faced many challenges as a Black woman in the music industry. She was often subjected to racism and discrimination, both on and off stage. However, she continued to perform and record, and her music inspired countless musicians and fans alike.
Smith’s influence can still be heard in jazz and blues music today. Her powerful, emotional performances paved the way for future generations of women in music, and her legacy continues to inspire new artists to this day.