Mamie Smith- The Mother of Blues

  • Mamie Smith was a singer, dancer and performer and was known for her ability to switch between mediums seamlessly.
  • She was born on September 16th, 1891 in Cincinnati, Ohio to parents Benjamin and Amanda Robinsion.
  • Smith began performing in vaudeville shows at only ten years old. She danced, sang and acted. Smith worked with “ Smart Set” and “ Dancing Mitchells” vaudeville companies. 
  • In 1912, after her divorce from her first husband Smith went to Harlem to hone her skills as a performer and singer. She worked in a variety of popular clubs, such as Percy Brown’s, John Conner’s Royal Garden, Jerry Preston’s, Daddy Wood’s, Ed Small’s Sugar Cane, Kid Bank’s, Charles Digg’s, and the Garden of Joy.
  • In 1918, Smith was approached by Perry Bradford, a pianist, singer, dancer and actor who was working on his theater review “Made in Harlem ”. Smith’s performance of “ Harlem Blues” was so popular, it was reworked into her hit “ Crazy Blues” 
  • Mamie Smith is widely considered the Mother of Blues due to her song “ Crazy Blues”. 

It’s widely considered to be the first recording of blues music.

  • Recorded on August 10th, 1920 with Okeh Records, “ Crazy Blues” was also the first record to be widely marketed to a Black Audience. This record also introduced Smith’s Band, The Jazz Hounds.
  • Crazy Blues sold 75,000 copies in its first month of distribution and went on to sell a million copies by the end of the year.
  • Crazy Blues was a hit, the record blew up across the country and opened the doors for both Blues as a genre, and for Blues female artists as a whole.
  • She toured all over the country and was widely loved by her fans. Her shows included a variety of acts, such as singers, actors, comedians, and jugglers. She wanted to create a show that would amaze people, as so many were already enamored with her voice.

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