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Bessie Smith biography



Bessie Smith Born: April 15, 1894, Chattanooga, Tennessee Died: September 26, 1937, Clarksdale, Mississippi Bessie Smith's talent as a vocalist is legendary and she has influenced generations of blues singers, from Billie Holiday to Janis Joplin. She was enormously successful throughout the twenties as a blues and sometimes jazz singer, and beyond that she was an inspiration to the black community, as she lived her life with confidence and uncompromising self-respect, on no one's terms but her own. This self-assurance was part of the appeal of her rich, expressive vocals. Smith sometimes wrote her own material, such as "Back Water Blues." Her career was impacted by the Depression, as were the careers of many artists, but she continued to perform. She was probably on the verge of a comeback, reportedly having been scheduled to play Carnegie Hall at John Hammond's legendary concert "From Spirituals to Swing," when she was killed in a car accident in 1937.