Bessie Smith










Candace Corrigan
707 N Spring St
Murfreesboro, TN 37130

(615) 904-0085


Radio Portraits inspired from women's diaries written 1779-1959

MapBessie Smith 1898-1937
Blues and Jazz great

Touted as the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith's recordings sold ten million copies for Columbia Records in the 1920's The legend of her talent and musical ability is matched by the measure of her wild and larger-than-life persona. Born into abject poverty in Chattanooga, TN, she would eventually purchase a pullman railroad car for her traveling revue. After her untimely death at the age of 39, thousands of mourners attended her funeral procession in Philadelphia. Recent reissues of her recordings for Columbia have created new interest in her work.

Empress of the Blues

Let me tell you people, about a hard livin' Gal
She could really pack them in,
How she could make em smile

One morning when the Chattanooga choo choo blew
Bessie Smith was born the Empress of the Blues
She could really love a song, and sang it with a brand new style

Her daddy died when she was born
her momma died when she was nine
Singing on the streets of town, for nickels and for dimes
Traveling with a show was the life she came to know
Mesmerizing, hypnotizing every where she'd go
Let me sing her favorite song, I'll sing it to you just one time

St. Louis Woman
written by W.C.Handy in 1914.

I hate to see that evening sun go down
I hate to see that evening sun go down
Makes me feel, I'm on my last go round

If I'm feelin' tomorrow the way I am today
If I'm feelin' tomorrow, the way I am today
I'm going to pack my bags, and make my get away

St Louis woman, with all your diamond rings
You got my man, tied round your apron strings
Without your powder, and all your diamond rings
You know my lovin' man would not have gone nowhere

I'm as blue just as blue, as blue as I can be
That lovin' man of mine has a heart like a rock in the sea
St Louie woman has made a fool out of me

Song Sources:
, Chris Albertson, Madison Books, 1974, Notable Black Women, "Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues", edited by Jessie Carney Smith, Detroit, 1992

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