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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Mamie Smith

b. May 26, 1883 in Cincinnati, OH, d. October 30, 1946 in New York City, NY. Despite beginning her showbusiness career as a dancer, before the outbreak of World War I, Smith was established as a singer. Although she was essentially a vaudeville singer, in 1920 she recorded ‘Crazy Blues’, thus becoming the first black singer to record the blues as a soloist. The enormous success of this and her subsequent recordings established her reputation and thereafter she was always in great demand. Her accompanying musicians, on record and on tour, included Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith, Joe Smith, Johnny Dunn, Bubber Miley and Coleman Hawkins. She lived extravagantly, squandering the enormous amount of money she earned, and when she died in 1946 after a long illness, she was bankrupt.

Hit records:
1920, "Crazy Blues" (3rd, US Chart)
1921, "Fare Thee Honey Blues" (9th, US Chart)
1921, "Royal Garden Blues" (13th, US Chart)
1921, "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" (4th, US Chart)
1921, "Dangerous Blues" (6th, US Chart)
1922, "Lonesome Mama Blues" (6th, US Chart)
1923, "You Can Have Him, I Don't Want Him Blues" (13th, US Chart)
1923, "You've Got to See Mama Ev'ry Night (Or You Can't See Mama At All)" (13th, US Chart)