Get it Back in Blues

By: Alexia Khalil

Women in Blues

During the Blues era, women were at the forefront of the movement. Like others have done in previous genres, African American women in Blues chose to use this outlet as a source of expression. Women join together to celebrate freedom, independence, and sexual realities. Blues came along soon after the abolition of slavery and it set the tone for a whole new vibe within our community. Musical expression was high and people were thrilled about the future and what it may hold. Between the new social and sexual realities flourishing within the African American community, especially for women, there was plenty to sing about. This sense of expression birthed Blues music and highlighted many great artists. Bessie Smith is one great example. She was known as the “Empress of Blues” during her time due to her unique performances. One thing about Bessie, she was not going to be silenced and she left her mark through her music. Catering to black women, Bessie sang about the everyday struggles of the new social scene and the lingering oppressions in society. Her music was a tool and used to enlighten her audience about anything she felt necessary like abuse, racism, and sexism. All of this led her to becoming the highest paid black female blues artist. Others like Mamie Smith and Ma Rainey have displayed the same courage and musical success. 

Blues in Today

With the Empress of the Blues gone, along with her fellow blues babes, were are only left with their legacy. These women have left such an amazing impact on aspiring female artists. Not only just that but they have inspired me as well, someone who has no interest in becoming an artist but who values women empowerment in all shapes, sizes and genres.  The confidence displayed by these women in a male dominant industry should never go unnoticed. Artists like Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, and Alicia Keys incorporate this powerful and fearless sense of freedom throughout their music in order to educate and uplift our community. 

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