Empress of the Blues

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith's Early Years

Bessie Smith was born April 15, 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Bessie Smith was raised in poverty along with her other six siblings. Her father passed after birth. Bessie along with her brother would perform on street corners. At the age nine she made her professional debut at the Ivory Theater in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Pictures of the past

Bessie Smith

In the year of 1910 "Ma" Rainey took sixteen year old Bessie under her wing. She took her on the southern circuit of segregated black theaters and tent shows. Later on she recorded songs with Columbia. Her success saved the company from bankruptcy. She made 2000$ but that was a small amount of true earnings. She sang songs about the difficulty in during her career.

Bessie's Long Living Legacy

Bessie was a very successful artist in the 1920 she was prosperous in the 1920's. Many of her song where not played due to the harsh lyrics. But during the 1930's the Great Depression stuck and the company suffered. After the Depression Bessie suffered injuries in a car accident September 26, 1937 she died due to those injuries and her family was unable to afford a tombstone. So Later on the town had tombstone made for her.

Work Cited Bibilography

Ashby, Ruth, and Deborah Gore. Ohrn. "Bessie Smith." <i>Herstory: Women Who Changed the World</i>. New York: Viking, 1995. N. pag. Print.



"Bessie Smith." BessieSmithcc. Bessie Smith Cultural Center, n.d. Web. <http://www.bessiesmithcc.org. Bessie Smith- "Empress of the Blues">.


"Bessie Smith." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <http://www.pbs.org/jazz/biography/artist_id_smith_bessie.htm>.


"Bessie Smith | American Singer." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <http://www.britannica.com/biography/Bessie-Smith>.


"Bessie Smith Biography." The Biography.com Website. Ed. Biography.com Editors. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <http://www.biography .com/people/bessie-smith-9486520>.