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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Laura Smith

Laura Smith, b. in Indianapolis, IN, d. February 1932 in Los Angeles, CA, classic female blues and country blues singer, active 1920s. She is best known for her recordings of "Gonna Put You Right in Jail" and her version of "Don't You Leave Me Here". She led Laura Smith and her Wild Cats and also worked with Clarence Williams and Perry Bradford. Details of her life outside the music industry are scanty.

Smith was probably born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her date of birth is unknown. In the early 1920s, she toured the Theater Owners Bookers Association circuit. Her recording career started in 1924 with Okeh and ended just three years later, when she recorded some tracks for Victor. The music journalist Scott Yanow noted that her earliest recordings were her strongest: "by the time she recorded 'Don't You Leave Me Here' in 1927, much of the power was gone". Her recordings include two songs, "The Mississippi Blues" and "Lonesome Refugee", about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. She recorded a total of 35 songs. It was reported that by 1926 Smith was married to Slim Jones, a comedian, and was living in Baltimore. Her most notable number, "Don't You Leave Me Here", was made more famous in a version recorded by Jelly Roll Morton some ten years later. Smith died of long-term effects of hypertension in February 1932 in Los Angeles. All her available recordings have been released on CD by Document Records (see below). She was unrelated to the singers Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith, Clara Smith and Trixie Smith). She is also not to be confused with the Canadian folk singer-songwriter Laura Smith.
by Ron DePasquale
The life of blues singer Laura Smith is not a well-documented one. Born in Indianapolis, Smith toured the T.O.B.A. vaudeville circuit in the early '20s. She began a brief recording career in 1924 with Okeh, and finished with Victor three years later. Smith, part of blues unrelated-Smith girls (Bessie, Mamie, Clara and Trixie), recorded "Don't You Leave Me Here" in 1927, a decade before Jelly Roll Morton made it famous. Bandleader and pianist Clarence Williams, cornetist Tom Morris, trombonist Buddy Christian, and clarinetist Ernest Elliott all worked with Smith. She died of high blood pressure in Los Angeles in 1932.