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Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith artist page: interviews, features and/or performances archived at NPR Music

Interviews & Profiles

Bessie Smith, shown here ca. 1935, remained an active performer until her sudden death at age 43.

May 7, 2008 The singer's feverish growls and impassioned delivery informed nearly all African American music.

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Bessie Smith

January 16, 2000 Margaret Howze reports on the song's background and its definitive 1925 recording by Bessie Smith.

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Discover Songs

The cover of The Essential Bessie Smith

August 1, 2001 Known as "empress of the blues," Bessie Smith shows she can captivate a room without a microphone.

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Reviews

Bessie Smith, "The Empress of the Blues," gave voice the listeners' tribulations and yearnings of the 1920s and '30s.

November 21, 2012 A new 10-CD box set collects the complete works of the colossus who straddled jazz and blues.

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More Stories

A flight of beers to accompany some musical flights of fancy.

July 26, 2012 Our musical sommelier matches classical pieces with the perfect brews.

In 1926, everyone did the Charleston on ice.

September 27, 2011 The banning of alcohol and the subsequent rise of speakeasies played a role in jazz's evolution.

Sheet music for W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues."

August 10, 2011 Hear five versions of the popular W.C. Handy song, performed by five of America's top jazz artists.

NPR Artist Directory

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Exclusive performances from the pop duo from Baltimore.

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Music and news from the Sri Lanka-born hip-hop artist and producer.

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The Essential Bessie Smith

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  • Album: The Essential Bessie Smith
  • Artist: Bessie Smith