By Chris Albertson
This book—a revised and increased version of the definitive biography of Bessie Smith, often called the “Empress of the Blues”—debunks a few of the myths that circulated after her premature dying in 1937. For this new version, Chris Albertson presents extra info of Bessie’s early years, new interview fabric, and a bankruptcy dedicated to occasions and responses that the unique publication.“The first estimable full-length biography not just of Bessie Smith yet of any black musician.”—Whitney Balliett, New Yorker (on the 1st edition)“A remarkably clear-eyed exam of Smith’s character (and sexuality) and, extra very important, of the gritty and grasping track business.”—Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly“A brilliant portrait of this necessary American diva."—Will Friedwald, ny Sun“The so much devastating, provocative, and enlightening paintings of its sort ever contributed to the annals of jazz literature.”—Leonard Feather, la occasions (on the 1st edition)“An exemplary biography . . . [with] a gripping, frequently relocating, narrative.”—John Mole, instances Literary complement
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Additional info for Bessie: Revised and expanded edition
In 1885, two white Boston businessmen, Benjamin Franklin Keith and Edward Franklin Albee, initiated the vaudeville era with a production that promised wholesome family fun from morning to night and allowed patrons to stay as long as they wished for a mere quarter. Nine years later, the Keith-Albee concept had evolved into a grand entertainment presented in lavishly appointed theaters designed to resemble the most opulent palaces of Europe. By 1900, vaudeville (a name Keith and Albee are said to have originated) had spread to other cities, spawned new theatrical alliances and theater circuits, and become the primary American entertainment.
The Stokes company’s cast included Gertrude McDonald, Son Riggins, 12 Bessie Wiley Teasley, Len Collins, Isaac Bradford, Abner Davis, Will Rainey, and his wife of eight years, a singer named Gertrude. No one knows how long Bessie stayed with that show, but a few months later she was seen appearing twenty miles away, in Dalton, Georgia, with another troupe that also included the Raineys. Bessie would undoubtedly have tasted success without Ma Rainey, but her direction might have been different if fate had not brought them together.
Ruby was not present, her request to be taken along having been denied, but she adamantly refused to accept Walker’s observations as true. ‘‘I don’t believe anything that 34 Bessie As Bessie prepared to make her first recording, Frank Walker sought to lure Alberta Hunter away from Paramount. She had suggested that he give her ‘‘Down Hearted Blues’’ to King Oliver, but Walker did better than that—he gave it to Bessie. From the author’s collection. had to do with singing could make that woman nervous or scared,’’ she said.
Bessie: Revised and expanded edition by Chris Albertson