Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) was an American blues singer.Nicknamed The Empress of the Blues, Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s.
She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on other jazz vocalists.Selective awards and recognitionGrammy Hall of FameRecordings of Bessie Smith were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
This special Grammy Award was established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance."National Recording RegistryIn 2002 Smith's recording of the single, "Downhearted Blues", was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
The board selects songs on an annual basis that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.""Downhearted Blues" was included in the list of Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts in 2001.
It is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock 'n' roll.InductionsU.S.
Postage StampDigital remasteringTechnical faults in the majority of her original gramophone recordings—especially variations in recording speed, which raised or lowered the apparent pitch of her voice, misrepresented the "light and shade" of her phrasing, interpretation and delivery.
They altered the apparent key of her performances (sometimes raised or lowered by as much as a semitone).
The fact that the "centre hole" in some of the master recordings had not been in the true middle of the master disc meant that there were wide variations in tone, pitch, key and phrasing, as commercially released records revolved around the spindle.Given those historic limitations, the current digitally remastered versions of her work deliver significant, very positive differences in the sound quality of Smith's performances.
Some critics believe that the American Columbia Records compact disc releases are somewhat inferior to subsequent transfers made by the late John R.
Davies for Frog Records.Popular cultureThe 1948 short story "Blue Melody" by J.
Salinger and the 1959 play The Death of Bessie Smith by Edward Albee are both based on Smith's life and death, but poetic license is taken by both authors; for instance, Albee's play distorts the circumstances of her medical treatment, or lack thereof, prior to her demise, attributing it to racist medical practitioners.Playwright Angelo Parra wrote the 2001 musical play The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, with Miche Braden in the title roleThe musical now in production, Bessie's Back In Town by Barry Edelson, as accurately as possible represents major aspects of her life as well as her death while remaining true to her music.Jack Peñate's song "Learning Lines" off his first album refers to "Bessie Smith, sings the blues" in its chorus.The video game series Bioshock (1 and 2) Bessie Smith is portrayed as a cameo of a character by the name of Grace Holloway.
Bessie Smith's music can be heard during the loading screen and in the level Paupers Drop, and in the various hallways and rooms of the sunken city.Canadian folk singer Valdy's song "Peter and Lou" refers to "Bessie Smith singin' the blues..." three times.