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    By Michael Dalby on


    Bessie SmithBessie Smith was the “Empress of the Blues” of the 1920s. Her voice would resonate songs loud enough that she did not need a microphone when singing. She was born in Chattanooga, TN in 1894 – singing and dancing on the streets at a young age with her brothers. After joining up with a traveling minstrel show and meeting up with the legendary “Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Smith later signed up with Columbia Records in 1923. 


    Smith’s career blossomed during the Harlem Renaissance. She was the highest paid African American entertainer of the 1920s and performed with Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson. Her career...

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