Bessie Smith

by Rakayla Brooks


On April 15, 1894, a musical legend was born, and her name was Bessie Smith. She was one of the six children her parents had. Her father, William Smith, was a minister who unfortunately died a little after Bessie was born. Her mother, Laura Smith, and her two brothers died when she was about 8 years old, leaving Bessie and the rest of her siblings to be raised by their aunt. Although, Bessie had a very rough childhood, it didn’t stop her from reaching for her goals. Before she got famous, she and her brothers would sing out on the street, and play the guitar. In 1912, she started dancing in the “Moses Stokes Minstrel Show”. This was the start of her career when she released a song called “Down- Hearted Blues”, and sold 800 thousand copies. This caught the attention of Columbia Records, when they decided to sign her to their record label in 1923. She was known by the public as the “Empress of the Blues” because of her impeccable voice, and insane talent. In her free time she liked to act, and dance. Bessie also appeared in a short film called, St. Louis Blues. Sadly, her career ended when she was killed in a tragic car accident on September 26, 1937 at the age of 43. Her life may have ended, but her legacy lives on.

Bessie's Impact On The World

She inspired many African American girls, encouraging them that they could do anything, despite what type of life they lived. She inspired women everywhere that they could accomplish anything they want, if they believe in themselves. She changed Jazz music, in a way that amazed people all over the world.
Bessie Smith - Mini Bio

Mini Bio Questions

How old was Bessie when she hit the theatre circuit?

Where was Bessie Smith born?