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Gulf Coast Blues

Bessie Smith


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Bessie Smith
"Empress of the Blues"
(April 15th 1894 - September 26th 1937)


Recorded in New York City on February 16th 1923 featuring Bessie Smith vocals, accompanied by
Clarence Williams piano. -It was Bessie's debut recording.

*"Gulf Coast Blues" was composed by Clarence Williams.

Bessie Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 15th 1894.

After the death of her father, day laborer and part-time Baptist preacher, William Smith she began working as a street performer to help support her family accompanied on the guitar by her brother Andrew.

In 1912 an eighteen year old Bessie joined her eldest brother Clarence traveling the minstrel circuit with the Stokes troupe where she met her mentor Gertrude "Ma" Rainey.

She left in 1915 to work the T.O.B.A. circuit and by 1920 was regarded as the top blues singer in vaudeville.

In 1923 Bessie Smith made her first records and soon became one of the most memorable vocal talents in blues history billed as "The Empress of the Blues".

Established as perhaps the most beloved female singer of blues and jazz Bessie Smith's life and career were cut tragically short in September 1937 when she was critically injured in a automobile accident while traveling on Route 61 between Memphis, Tennessee and Clarksdale, Mississippi.

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