Bessie Smith

Knowledge Identifier: +Bessie_Smith

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Bessie Smith

American blues singer add

Category: Music (650)

Born in 1894.

Countries: United States (86%), Tennessee (6%), (6%)

Education: undef.

Main connections: Blues, Alberta Hunter, Fletcher Henderson

Linked to: Theater Owners Booking Association, National Endowment for the Arts

 

Timeline


 

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Bessie Smith was born in 1894 add something


1900

The 1900 census indicates that Bessie Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in July 1892 add something


1904

In 1904, her oldest brother, Clarence, covertly left home, joining a small traveling troupe owned by Moses Stokes add something


1912

In 1912, Clarence returned to Chattanooga, Tennessee with the Stokes troupe add something

 

J. Russel Robinson - Other popular compositions included the jazz standard "Eccentric" , "Jazzola" , "I Got a New Deal in Love", "Swing, Mr. Charlie", "Sapho Rag", "Two Time Dan", "Mary Jane" with Andy Razaf, "Beale Street Mama", "I'll Be in My Dixie Home Again Tomorrow", "Aggravatin' Papa", recorded in 1923 by Bessie Smith and Alberta Hunter with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, Florence Mills, Pearl Bailey, and Sophie Tucker, "Palesteena", the classic "Margie", "Mary Lou", "Singin' the Bl


1913

Smith began forming her own act around 1913, at Atlanta's "81" Theater add something


1920

By 1920, Smith had established a reputation in the South and along the Eastern Seaboard add something

 

In 1920, sales figures of over 100,000 copies for "Crazy Blues," an Okeh Records recording by singer Mamie Smith pointed to a new market add something

 

Nicknamed "'The Empress of the Blues"', Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s add something

 

Smith became a headliner on the black T.O.B.A. circuit and rose to become its top attraction in the 1920s add something

 

Pigmeat Markham - For a time he was a member of Bessie Smith's Traveling Revue in the 1920s

 

Wilson Myers - He played drums with Bessie Smith in the middle of the 1920s, and played guitar and banjo professionally in addition to bass

 

Alberta Hunter - Her career had started back in the early 1920s, and from there on, she became a successful jazz and blues recording artist, being critically acclaimed to the ranks of Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith

 

Jazz - That year saw the first recording by Bessie Smith, the most famous of the 1920s blues singers


1923

By 1923, when she began her recording career, Smith had taken up residence in Philadelphia add something

 

For most of 1923, her records were issued on Columbia's regular A- series; when the label decided to establish a "race records" series, Smith's "Cemetery Blues" was the first issued add something

 

Bessie Smith was signed by Columbia Records in 1923 and her first session for Columbia was February 15, 1923 add something

 

There she met and fell in love with Jack Gee, a security guard whom she married on June 7, 1923, just as her first record was released add something

 

For example, after giving a concert for a white-only audience at a local theater in Memphis, Tennessee in October 1923, she performed a late night concert on station WMC, where her songs were very well received by the radio audience add something

 

Lovie Austin - Singer Bessie Smith turned the song into a hit in 1923

 

J. Russel Robinson - "Aggravatin' Papa" was composed with Roy Turk and Addie Britt and was recorded by Alberta Hunter in 1923 with Fletcher Henderson's Dance Orchestra and by Bessie Smith and Pearl Bailey


1925

Kid Ory - In 1925, Ory moved to Chicago, where he was very active, working and recording with Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Joe "King" Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Bessie Smith, Ma_Rainey, and many others

 

Fletcher Henderson - In 1925, along with fellow composer Henry Troy, he wrote "Gin House Blues", recorded by Bessie Smith and Nina Simone amongst others.


1927

Irving Berlin - On its first release and subsequent releases, the song was consistently near the top of the charts: Bessie Smith, in 1927, and Louis Armstrong, in 1937; no. 1 by Bing Crosby and Connee Boswell; Al Jolson, in 1947


1928

Frank Stokes (musician) - Sane rejoined Stokes for the second day of the August 1928 session, and they produced a two-part version of "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do", a song well known in later versions by Bessie Smith and Jimmy Witherspoon, but whose origin lies somewhere in the pre-blues era


1929

In 1929, she appeared in a Broadway flop called "Pansy," a musical in which top critics said she was the only asset add something

 

In 1929, when she learned of his affair with another singer, Gertrude Saunders, Bessie Smith ended the relationship, although neither of them sought a divorce add something

 

Lonnie Johnson - After touring with Bessie Smith in 1929, Johnson moved to Chicago, and recorded for Okeh with stride pianist James P. Johnson


1931

Milt Gabler - He was able to secure many important jazz records including the 1931 Joe Venuti-Eddie Lang all star session , Bessie Smith's final session , a number of Frank Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke, and Miff Mole sides


1933

In 1933, John Hammond, who mentored Billie Holiday, asked Smith to record four sides for Okeh add something

 

In 1933, when she made the Okeh sides, Bessie was still touring add something

 

Made November 24, 1933, they serve as a hint of the transformation she made in her performances as she shifted her blues artistry into something that fit the "swing era" add something


1934

Willie Bryant - He worked in various vaudeville productions for the next several years, and in 1934 he appeared in the show "Chocolate Revue" with Bessie Smith


1936

Bessie Smith worked at Art's Cafe on Ridge Avenue, but not as a hostess and not until the summer of 1936 add something


Bessie Smith died in 1937 add something

 

On September 26, 1937, Smith was critically injured in a car accident while traveling along U.S. Route 61 between Memphis, Tennessee, and Clarksdale, Mississippi add something

 

Smith's funeral was held in Philadelphia a little over a week later on October 4, 1937 add something

 

Jazz writer/producer John Hammond gave this account in an article in the November 1937 issue of "Down Beat" magazine add something


1949

Ottilie Patterson - In 1949 Ottilie went to study art at Belfast College of Technology, where a fellow student introduced her to the music of Bessie Smith, Jelly_Roll_Morton, and Meade Lux Lewis


1950

Tally Brown - By the 1950s, Brown had developed a rhythm-and-blues style akin to such performers as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, and during this time, she released an album entitled, "A Torch for Tally", with the Jimmy Diamond Quartet


1959

The circumstances of Smith's death and the rumor promoted by Hammond formed the basis for Edward Albee's 1959 one-act play "The Death of Bessie Smith" add something


1964

LaVern Baker - In 1964, she recorded a Bessie Smith tribute album, before leaving Atlantic and joining Brunswick Records, where she recorded the album "Let Me Belong to You"


1970

In the early 1970s, Dr. Smith gave a detailed account of his experience to Bessie's biographer Chris Albertson add something


 

This special Grammy award was established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance add something


2002

In 2002 Smith's recording of the single, "Downhearted Blues", was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry add something


2015

In 2015 HBO made a film commemorating the life of Bessie add something