Bessie Smith was an American blues singer widely renowned during the Jazz Age. Nicknamed the “Empress of the Blues“, she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and was a major influence on fellow blues singers, as well as jazz vocalists. Born in Chattanooga, TN, her parents died when she was young and the children scraped by doing street performing in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She began touring and performed in a group that included “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey, and then went out on her own. Her successful recording career began in the 1920s, until an automobile accident ended her life at age 43.

Downhearted Blues