We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Blues Music History

Blues Music History

Bessie Smith in Blues Music History

Bessie Smith (1894-1937) was known as the "Empress of the Blues," a title appropriate in light of both her talent and demeanor. Smith got her professional start in 1912, when she sang in the same show as Ma Rainey, and recorded a string of hits from 1923 to 1928.

Where Rainey exhibited a strong folk influence, Bessie Smith seemed to exist between blues and jazz and, arguably, brought the emotional intensity of blues singing to jazz arrangements. Bessie Smith also had a larger national following and brought the classic blues to an urban, white audience.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...