We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is Bessie Smith?

Niki Acker
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Bessie Smith was an American blues singer of the 1920s and 30s. She was the most famous and successful female blues vocalist of her day and influenced many later singers. In her heyday, Bessie Smith was christened "Empress of the Blues" and became the most highly paid African American entertainer of her era.

Bessie Smith was born in July 1892 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the thirteenth child of Baptist minister William Smith. By the time she was nine, Bessie Smith had lost both her parents, and her older sister, Viola, took over as head of the family. Bessie began singing on the street, accompanied by her brother Andrew on guitar, as a way to raise money for her family. In 1912, her brother Clarence arranged for her audition for a troupe to which he belonged, and Bessie Smith was hired as a dancer. In the following years, she added singing to her public performances.

After making a name for herself through her performances throughout the American South and the East coast, Bessie Smith was signed by Columbia Records in 1923. She continued to tour throughout her career and performed with many greats of the blues genre, including Louis Armstrong. Though the Depression and the growth of cinema heralded the end of vaudeville, Bessie Smith continued to tour. In 1929, she appeared in an unsuccessful Broadway musical entitled Pansy, as well as a short film, St. Louis Blues.

Bessie Smith's final recordings date from 1933, when producer John Henry Hammond contracted her to perform four songs on Columbia's Okeh label. These recordings were more in the swing style than Smith's earlier work, and though they are popular today, they did not inspire Hammond to retain Bessie Smith on the label. Bessie Smith died on 26 September 1937 from complications following a severe car accident. Her recordings, recently remastered, remain classics of the blues genre, and her style inspired such later vocalists as Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a PublicPeople editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a PublicPeople editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of...
Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.