Victoria Spivey: Black Snake Blues

Blues is a musical genre that originated in the Deep South, such as Mississippi Delta, by the African Americans during the late 19th Century. Blues was rooted in African musical elements, work, and spiritual songs. It consists of musical instruments like a guitar, piano, and soloist singer. The blues were essential to the African Americans in the 20th Century because it allowed them to express themselves to whatever was bothering them, such as segregation, depression, sharecroppers, and poverty. It was essential to black women blues singers because they had sung issues that affected black women, such as domestic violence, drugs, relationships, and sex. A figure that was important in the genre was Victoria Spivey. She was the most influential blues singer during the 20th Century because her music style was unique. She wrote and played her own songs, and she revived the blues in the 1960s that inspired famous artists such as Bob Dylan, Beatles, and more.


Victoria Spivey was born on October 15, 1906, in Huston, Texas. She was the daughter of Grant and Addie Spivey. Victoria’s Father was in a string band, and he taught her how to play the piano at the age of 12. In 1918, She started her career at the age of 19 by performing with Lazy Daddy’s Fillmore Blues Band and L. C. Tolen’s Band and Revue in Dallas. In the early 1920s, she performed in clubs, brothels and performed with Blind Lemon Jefferson, another Blue legend in Huston and Galveston. Her involvement with other blues bands and singers led her to record her first single.

Music Style and Okeh Record Label

Victoria had a unique voice and music style. She was known for her mean blues style with a stern and nasal voice. Her music style was influenced by Ida Cox, Bessie Smith, Bobby Smith, and Sara Martin. She wrote songs addressing relationships with men, unemployment, and justice. As a result, she composed and recorded her first single, ” Black Snakes Blues,” for the Okeh Recobles in 1926. She also wrote and recorded other songs such as “Tb Blues, and “Dope Head Blues. With her groundbreaking songs, she worked with the music company as a songwriter in St. Louis, Missouri. From the 30s through the 50s, she toured with Louis Armstrong and performed in many African American Revenues. By the late 1950s, with the blues no longer being popular for African Americans, she left the music business. Her music and singing style led her to make a comeback late in her life.

Blues Revivial in 60s

By the early 60s, blues were revival for the white audience instead of the black audience. This led her career to make a comeback. She performed in many blues festivals. By 1962, she formed her own recorded labels called Spivey Record. She released many albums ” Women Blues” in 1961, “Songs we taught your mother” in 1962, and “The Queens and Her Knights” in 1961. Victoria helped to record younger singers like John Hammond Jr. and Bob Dylan. She died in 1974 age of 70, in New York City.

Overall, Victoria was a fantastic blues singer and songwriter. With her amazon songs, lyrics helped black women in the early 20s, and that continued though the 60s. She gave us insight into what black women through and dealt with personal stuff, such as creating her own recorded imprecated and influenced other musicians to record their songs. Her contributions to the music business  had labeled her to be one of the most influential blue singer the American has ever had.

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