By Chris Albertson


The definitive biography of musical legend Bessie.

“A landmark in the writing of jazz history . . . First-rate” (The Washington Post).

Known as the “Empress of the Blues,” Bessie Smith was a successful vaudeville entertainer who became the highest paid African American performer of the Roaring Twenties. This revised and expanded biography debunks many of the myths that have circulated since her untimely death in 1937. Writing with insight and candor about the singer’s personal life and career, the author supplements his research with dozens of interviews with her relatives, friends, and associates—in particular Ruby Walker Smith, a niece by marriage who toured with Bessie for over a decade.

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