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

toggle caption Bettmann/Corbis

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

toggle caption Three Lions/Getty Images

The NPR 100

'St. Louis Blues'

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

Listen Loading… 15:22
  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/1069234/18712551" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor