Bessie Smith

Famous American Blues Singer


Bessie Smith was born to a big family. Soon after her birth, her father died. When she was twelve, her mother died along with two of her brothers. Bessie and her four remaining siblings were left to be raised by their aunt. Around this time, she started singing on the streets, with her brother who played the guitar. She eventually became a dancer for the Moses Stokes minstrel show, and then the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Ma Rainey was also a member there, and she took Bessie under her wing. In the next ten years Bessie performed at a number of theaters and on the vaudeville circuit. Once Bessie was discovered and signed by Columbia records, her rise to the top didn't take very long at all.

Bessie's Influence on our culture

Bessie Smith had such an amazing voice, it stills inspires people nowadays. Some famous singers that she has hugely influenced include Mahalia Jackson, Janis Joplin and Norah Jones who have all given her credit as their inspiration. Even though Bessie died almost 80 years ago, she has still managed to inspire millions of people.

How Bessie Smith compares to Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin has stated that Bessie Smith has widely influenced her music. They are both african american women who have changed jazz music for the better. Also, various have claimed that Aretha and Bessie have inspired their music. They both have amazing voices that people have found to be beautiful. This is why Aretha and Bessie are actually quite similar. Below is a video of one of Aretha's many famous songs, respect.
Aretha Franklin - Respect [1967] (Original Version)

Down Hearted Blues

Below is a piece of music sung by Bessie Smith. This song, titled Down Hearted Blues, is the song that started her career. It was very popular, and sold over 800,000 copies! This jumpstarted Bessie's career, pushing her into the blues spotlight.
Bessie Smith (Down Hearted Blues, 1923) Jazz Legend