When it comes to influential people in the 1920's, Bessie Smith not only takes a slice of the cake, but her face is plastered into the frosting. She had an exciting life, which transported her into singing the blues.
Before she was known as the "Empress of the Blues", her life began when she was born an African American, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She lived with her poor black family, and before the tender age of ten, Bessie began singing on street corners for pennies. She did this until a local club operator heard Bessie's abilities; offered her $8.00 a week to sing at his tavern, beginning her career.
Bessie Smith had characteristics that were different from women in her time period. She always wanted what she wanted, and had a temper that could become fiery if you crossed her. Bessie stood at six feet in height, and was over 200 pounds in weight, so not many people risked her wrath could be devastating if they crossed her.
Her rags to riches stories, and emotions were expressed though her music. Many people looked down at Bessie because of her skin color; this outraged her; so much that she was racist herself. Smith despised blacks, and often tried to be more like whites.
The kick off of her profession was when Ma Rainey found her. In 1912 Bessie joined a traveling show as a dancer and singer. It all started when Ma's variety show, the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, was passing through Chattanooga. Ma had the instance to listen to youthful Bessie buzz. Ma obtained Bessie to go on the road with the show. Bessie stayed with the show for three years, and learned many things about the art from Ma.
Smith was a leading artist in black shows on the TOBA...