Empress of the Blues Bessie Smith, born today… perhaps

Depending on whose account you believe, Bessie Smith, the Empress of the blues, was born today, April 15 (1894). A top recording artist of the 1920s, she influenced Billie Holiday. Young Eleanora, as Billie was known then, heard Bessie’s blues on the victrola while working as a towel girl at a Baltimore brothel. In rare footage, Bessie sings W. C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues.”

Of course, Billie also covered that song. Props to Bessie, but you know I’m partial.

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