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

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American singer Bessie Smith, known as the Empress of the Blues, circa 1935. Three Lions/Getty Images hide caption

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The NPR 100

'St. Louis Blues'

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

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