10 Facts about Bessie Smith

Sunday, June 21st 2015. | Music

If you are interested to know more about the well known American blues singer, check Facts about Bessie Smith. Smith was born on 15 April 1894 and passed away on 26 September 1937. In 1920s and 1930s, she became the most popular blues singer in United States. Therefore, she earned the nickname The Empress of the Blues. Let’s find out more interesting facts about Bessie Smith below:

Facts about Bessie Smith 1: the great singers

Due to her popularity and vocal, she is considered as one of the greatest blues singers in America.

Facts about Bessie Smith 2: place of birth

Bessie Smith was born in July 1892 in Chattanooga, Tennessee based on the 1900s census. It was the date of birth informed by her mother. However, she was born on 15 April 1894 based on the 1910 census.  The date of the census remained controversy. Moreover, the size of her family was also in question.

Bessie Smith Blues

Bessie Smith Blues

Facts about Bessie Smith 3: parents

Let’s find out the parents of Bessie Smith. Her father was William Smith, while her mother was Laura Owens. Based on the 1870 census, his father was listed as a minister of gospel. But he was also a laborer.

Facts about Bessie Smith 4: the family life

Smith lost her father when she was still a child. She also lost her mother when she was 9 years old. Therefore, the family was in difficult financial situation. Therefore, Smith had to work on the Chattanooga Street along with her brother. They had a duet. Her bother played the guitar, while Smith sang and danced.

Facts about Bessie Smith

Facts about Bessie Smith

Facts about Bessie Smith 5: as a dancer

Bessie Smith was hired as a dancer for the first time. She was not picked as a singer in the Stokes Troupe where her bother Clarence was involved too. Find out Benny Goodman facts here.

Facts about Bessie Smith 6: a recording career

She had her recording career in 1923. During the time, she became one of the highest paid entertainers.

Bessie Smith Singer

Bessie Smith Singer

Facts about Bessie Smith 7: personal life

The personal life of Bessie Smith was a bit complicated after she married a security guard Jack Gee on 7 June 1923. The infidelity occurred on both sides. Smith decided to end the relationship with Gee when he had affair with Gertrude Saunders in 1929.

Facts about Bessie Smith 8: Frank Walker

Frank Walker was a talent agent who had seen her performed on stage. He was impressed. In 1923, Columbia Records signed her as a singer.

Bessie Smith Fame

Bessie Smith Fame

Facts about Bessie Smith 9: the first record

On 26 September 1923, “Cemetery Blues” was firstly issued. She also had other records such as “Downhearted Blues” and “Gulf Coast Blues”. Get facts about Benjamin Britten here.

Facts about Bessie Smith 10: the nickname

She was originally nicknamed Queen of the Blues by Columbia. But it was changed into Empress of the Blue by her PR.

Bessie Smith Pic

Bessie Smith Pic

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