Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 15, 1894, jazz and blues vocalist Bessie Smith’s powerful, soulful voice won her countless fans and earned her the title “Empress of the Blues.” In her recording career, Smith worked with many important jazz performers, such as saxophonist Sidney Bechet and pianists Fletcher Henderson and James P. Johnson.
Bessie Smith was one of the biggest African-American stars of the 1920’s and was popular with both Whites and African-Americans. By 1931 the music industry shifted to a different sound. The Depression, radio, and sound movies had all damaged the record companies’ ability to sell records, leaving Bessie without a label. In 1933, she recorded for the last time under the direction of John Hammond transitioning to more of a jazz style.
10. There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight (1927)
9. I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl (1931)
8. Backwater Blues (1927)
7. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1927)
6. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out (1929)
5. T’ain’t Nobody’s Biz-Ness if I Do (1923)
4. Careless Love Blues (1925)
3. Empty Bed Blues (1928)
2. St. Louis Blues (1925)
- Downhearted Blues (1923)