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

Bessie Smith

Turning the Tables at Lincoln Center NPR hide caption

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NPR

Turning The Tables: Celebrating Eight Women Who Invented American Popular Music

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Romare Bearden, Empress of the Blues. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase in part through the Luisita L. and Frank H. Denghausen Endowment hide caption

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Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase in part through the Luisita L. and Frank H. Denghausen Endowment

Bessie Smith poses for a portrait circa 1925. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How Bessie Smith Influenced A Century Of Popular Music

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Turning The Tables: 8 Women Who Invented American Popular Music Chelsea Beck for NPR hide caption

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Chelsea Beck for NPR

Hear a conversation about the third season of Turning the Tables on Morning Edition

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In her music, Bessie Smith — known as the "Empress Of The Blues" — communicated the kind of outward urgency and inner stillness that often signals the telling of an absolute truth. Carl Van Vechten Photograph Collection/Library of Congress hide caption

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Carl Van Vechten Photograph Collection/Library of Congress

Queen Latifah plays blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO movie Bessie. Frank Masi/Courtesy of HBO hide caption

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Frank Masi/Courtesy of HBO

In HBO's 'Bessie,' Queen Latifah Stars As Empress Of The Blues

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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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Bettmann/Corbis

The Mythic Power Of Bessie Smith

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Bessie Smith: 'The Essential Bessie Smith'

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Bessie Smith, shown here ca. 1935, remained an active performer until her sudden death at age 43. Three Lions/Getty Images hide caption

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Three Lions/Getty Images

Bessie Smith: 'Blues Empress'

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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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Three Lions/Getty Images

'St. Louis Blues'

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