Stream Bessie Smith's Best Songs, The Music Of Her Influences And Inheritors There's a world of music you enter when you open the Bessie Smith door. Our playlist showcases some of of Smith's best songs, as well as music from her influences and inheritors.
NPR logo The World Of Bessie Smith: A Turning The Tables Playlist

The World Of Bessie Smith: A Turning The Tables Playlist

Blues singer Bessie Smith poses for a portrait circa 1925 in New York City. Edward Elcha/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

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Edward Elcha/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Blues singer Bessie Smith poses for a portrait circa 1925 in New York City.

Edward Elcha/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

There's a world of music you enter when you open the Bessie Smith door. A fierce, independent artist before those labels were so commonly applied, she was a huge talent in her day and her ongoing impact is undisputed. This playlist showcases some of Smith's best songs, as well as songs from the musical world she moved through and helped to create, including her influences (like her mentor Ma Rainey) and her inheritors (like Janis Joplin, who once said, "Bessie made me want to sing").

Stream: Spotify, Apple Music.