Bessie Smith started out as a street musician in Chattanooga. She was mentored in traveling shows and vaudeville by Ma Rainey.
By the early 1920s she was one of the most popular Blues singers in vaudeville.
Smith recorded with many of the great Jazz musicians of that era, including Fletcher Henderson, James P. Johnson, Coleman Hawkins, Don Redman and Louis Armstrong. Her rendition of “St. Louis Blues” with Armstrong is considered by most critics to be one of finest recordings of the 1920s, and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, along with her “Downhearted Blues” and “Empty Bed Blues” as recordings of historical significance.
I ain’t good-lookin’, but I’m somebody’s angel child. –Bessie Smith