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Published on Mar 4, 2008
Bessie Smith -- Baby Won't You Please Come Home 1923
Bessie Smith (1892 or 1894 --1937) was the most popular and successful female American blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s, and a strong influence on subsequent generations, including Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone and Janis Joplin. This is one of her first recordings in 1923 with pianist Clarence Williams. In no other way than living the kind of violent, hard-drinking street life she sang about, could Bessie Smith have inspired in her audiences the powerful empathy that ultimately won her the title, "Empress of the Blues." Throughout her career, Bessie was respected for being a strong, independent African-American woman with tremendous talent and determination. She expressed great pride in her culture, and gladly participated in its earthy pleasures, regularly indulging her taste for alcohol and sex to extremes. How ever much others tried to run roughshod over her, Bessie refused to submit to the slightest abuse without a knock-down, drag-out fight. With few exceptions, she held to her musical ideals with equal tenacity. Though musically illiterate, she regularly collaborated with her pianists to compose and write down her music and her words frequently touched on pertinent events in her life. Her performance style, too, derives considerably from her own personal and cultural attributes. (first posted on ilbofilms feb 24 2008; 492 views)