Archive for the ‘Bessie Smith’ Category

Queen Bessie

Posted: January 11, 2013 in Bessie Smith, David Sessions, Female Blues


Author: David Sessions

Source: Jazz News, April 5, 1961, p. 8


“BESSIE SMITH – Voice N.G.” Thus reads the entry against the date 21st April 1924 in Thomas Edison’s Talent Audition File. The grandfather of the gramophone obviously didn’t dig the blues for the same date shows “awful voice”, “No, voice bad”, “No – Singer N.G.” against the names of Lizzie Miles, Sara Martin and Viola McCoy respectively while Rosa Henderson earned the judgement “This is the limit. Can’t stand this voice. I have heard needle machine blues with much better voices”!.


Author: Angela Y. Davis

Source:  CHAPTER ONE  : “Blues Legacies and Black Feminism – Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

Quoted from:


Author: Matthew Keeler


A Thesis
Submitted to the Graduate College of Bowling Green
State University in partial fulfillment of
the requirements for the degree of
December 2005

Bessie Smith: an American Icon from Three Perspectives examines biographies, literary studies, and black feminist writings about the quintessential blueswoman of the 1920s American recording industry. Problems have arisen from each group of scholars interpreting Smith’s contributions and importance to American culture differently, often at the expense of someone else’s viewpoint. Historically, biographers tried to dispel myths in order to determine the true events of Smith’s life, but dismissed the necessity of myth in shaping her legacy. Literary scholars analyzed Smith’s lyrics for deeper social meanings and contributions to literature, but overlooked her role as a performer. Black feminists acknowledged Smith as a model for strong African-American womanhood among the urban working-class, but neglected her innovations as a musician. All of these perspectives contribute to our overall understanding of Smith, but possess fundamental flaws. I have examined nearly fifty years of Bessie Smith scholarship, considering the socio-cultural backgrounds, time periods, genders, and research limitations of scholars representing these various groups. Ultimately, their biases compromise our understanding of Smith. To address this problem, future researchers need to look beyond individual histories to understand the reasoning and research processes that created them.



Author : David Suisman

Source  : Souls, Winter 1999, University of Delaware


“The blues has always been about secrets. From the beginning, blues singers confided about conjure women, backdoor men, and the mysteries of human behavior. When a singer moaned “I mistreated my baby, and I can’t see no reason why”, it rang like a bewildered confession, a secret not even the singer understood.  In blues lore, secrets followed blues singers like shadows, and it never mattered whether the story about the Faustian midnight bargain was truth or promotional hokum. Either way, it imbued the music with a persuasive clandestine authority.”