... she was 43 years-old when she died on September 26, 1937.(1937-09-26)
Born in 1892 or 1894, in Chattanooga, Tennessee - the records are sketchy- Bessy Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent jazz vocalists.
To earn money for their family, Bessie and her brother Andrew began busking on the streets of Chattanooga as a duo: she singing and dancing, he accompanying her on guitar. Their favorite location was in front of the White Elephant Saloon at Thirteenth and Elm streets in the heart of the city's African-American community.
Bessie Smith was signed by Columbia Records in 1923 and for most of that year, her records were issued on Columbia's regular A- series. When the label decided to establish a "race records" series, Smith's "Cemetery Blues" (was the first issued. She scored a big hit with her first release, a coupling of "Gulf Coast Blues" and "Downhearted Blues."
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Smith became the highest-paid black entertainer of her day. She made some 160 recordings for Columbia, often accompanied by the finest musicians of the day, most notably Louis Armstrong, James P. Johnson, Joe Smith, Charlie Green and Fletcher Henderson.
In 1929, Smith made her only film appearance, starring in a two-reeler titled St. Louis Blues, based on W. C. Handy's song of the same name. In the film, directed by Dudley Murphy and shot in Astoria, she sings the title song accompanied by members of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, the Hall Johnson Choir, pianist James P. Johnson and a string section — a musical environment radically different from any found on her recordings.
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Smith was critically injured in a car accident while traveling along U.S. Route 61 between Memphis, Tennessee, and Clarksdale, Mississippi. Bessie was taken to Clarksdale's Afro-American Hospital where her right arm was amputated. She died that morning without regaining consciousness.