The Online Roots of Rock

The Online Roots of Rock
JUKEBOX CLIP
Robert Johnson - I Believe I'll Dust My Broom
Mamie Smith
1920


Classic Blues
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mamie smith ma rainey
bessie smith
alberta hunter
Mamie Smith
Ma Rainey
Bessie Smith
Alberta Hunter
The Classic Blues era of the 1920s was the first mass-marketable form of Blues. Its proponents were black female singers, mostly from vaudeville. LEFT: Mamie Smith's 1920 OKeh recording, Crazy Blues, was a huge hit and started the ball rolling. Record labels scrambled to sign female singers from vaudeville. LEFT CENTER: Ma Rainey, a veteran vaudeville performer in the segregated South, signed with Paramount in 1923. She brought an earthy vitality to urbane Classic Blues. RIGHT CENTER: Bessie Smith's 1923 Columbia recording, Down Hearted Blues, became Blues' first million-seller. She is considered the best of the Classic Blues singers and, by many, the best-ever Blues singer. RIGHT: Alberta Hunter shifted from singing cabaret-style Blues to performing sophisticated songs on the stage as her forté was live performances.


“. . . Ma Rainey, Besie Smith, Ida Cox,
Alberta Hunter and many othesr great women vocalists,
who had already transformed the blues from a
local folk tradition into a performing art,
now established it in the broader popular culture.”
.Wild Women Don't Have The Blues


Classic Blues
The Classic Blues era of the 1920s was the first recognized form of Blues. Its proponents were black, female singers, mostly from vaudeville.1
Classic Blues burst onto the scene as a result of one recording — Crazy Blues, sung by Mamie Smith in 1920 on the OKeh label.
The song sold incredibly well, and revealed an untapped black audience for black music.2 Other labels jumped on the bandwagon and recorded black, female singers on newly-created sepia labels.
Notable Classic Blues singers include Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter, Ida Cox, Sara Martin, Clara Smith, Victoria Spivey, Sippie Wallace and Ethel Waters.
MAMIE SMITH.
First Lady of the Blues
mamie smith
Mamie Smith
Mamie Smith kicked off the Classic Blues era with her recording of Crazy Blues in 1920 on the OKeh label. Her urban, cabaret-style Blues was developed by working vaudeville stages in Northern cities.
MA RAINEY.
Mother of the Blues
ma rainey
Ma Rainey
Ma Rainey signed with Paramount Records in 1923 after playing Vaudeville in the segregated South for over twenty-five years. Her broad repertoire of styles, lavish gowns and stage presence during the 1910s set the stage for all the Classic Blues singers of the 1920s.
BESSIE SMITH.
Empress of the Blues
bessie smith
Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith signed with Columbia Records in 1923.
Her first recording,
Down Hearted Blues was a huge hit, and became Blues' first million-seller. She is considered the best of the Classic Blues singers and, by many, the best-ever Blues singer.
ALBERTA HUNTER.
Ragtime Songbird Deluxe
alberta hunter
Alberta Hunter
Alberta Hunter signed with Black Swan Records in 1921 at the age of 26, after singing in Chicago and New York clubs through the 1910s. Her uptown Blues style contrasted to the earthy, down home style of Blues of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. After retiring in 1956, she returned to singing in 1977, at the age of 82, with a sophisticated style leaning towards Jazz.
IDA COX.
Uncrowned Queen of the Blues
ida cox
Ida Cox
Ida Cox signed with Paramount Records in 1923, but produced no major hits in her seven years with the label. However she did well as a songwriter because she managed and produced herself and organized travelling troupes to promote her songs.

1
The term "Classic Blues" is a bit of a misnomer, as many of the singers weren't really Blues singers, and most of their "Blues" songs contained non-Blues elements — hardly what we'd call classic Blues today.
2 Up to this point, through the 1910s, Blues-type recordings were sung by white women to a white audience. Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues showed there was a huge market for Blues-type songs sung by black women to a black audience. Record labels responded by establishing sepia catalogs and releasing race recordings.

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Black Pearls
Blues Queens of the 1920s
Blues Legacies and Black Feminism
Ma Rainer
and the Classic Blues Singers
Black Pearls - Blues Queens of the 1920s - daphne harrison
blues legacies and black feminism - angela davis
ma rainey and the classic blues singers - derrick stewart-baxter
Rutgers Universty Press
320 pages
1988
by Daphne Harrison
Vintage
464 pages
1999
by Angela Davis
Stein & Day
1970
by Derrick Stewart Baxter



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Blues Masters
Classic Blues Women
Female Blues Singers
Female Blues
1921-1928
Blues Masters - Classic Blues Women
female blues singers
female blues - the remaining titles - 1921-1928
Rhino / Wea
1 CD / 18 tracks
1993
Vol 13 in a series of lesser-known singers
Document
1 CD / 24 tracks
1997
Document
1 CD / 24 tracks
1997



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Wild Women Don't Have The Blues
Carl Perkins and Friends - A Rockabilly Session
California Newsreel
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