Experiencing Bessie Smith: A Listener's Companion

Experiencing Bessie Smith: A Listener's Companion

by John Clark


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Bessie Smith occupies a unique place in the history of American music. She was one of the first undisputed artists to come from the American vernacular tradition of the twentieth century, and as a woman, she was a figure of extraordinary power. She organized and led her own touring companies, wrote some of her repertoire, controlled her many relationships (romantic and otherwise), and even negotiated her own contracts. This type of agency was virtually unheard of in the popular music industry during the first half of the century, and Smith is often cited as a major influence on artists who sought to manage their work and reputation. Her musical output comprises a long series of recordings done between 1923 and 1933, all of which feature her vocal range, musical ability, and emotional power. Her band included some of the best black musicians of the day.

In Experiencing Bessie Smith, John Clark chronicles Bessie Smith's vital contribution to and influence on music, the music industry, and the recording industry. While her recording career lasted only a decade, she toured long before setting her music to vinyl, with much of her early career amply documented. Singers from Billie Holiday to Janis Joplin were influenced by her work, and both musicians and music lovers today continue to be entranced by her unmistakable style.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442243408
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 10/15/2017
Series: Listener's Companion Series
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

John Clark is a musicologist and performing musician in the Boston area. He has been teaching college music courses since 2005—primarily at Connecticut College. He is also a saxophone teacher, performer, and has led his own Wolverine Jazz Band since 1995, playing numerous national jazz festivals and concerts. He has been published in American Music, The International Association of Jazz Record Collectors Journal, The Journal of the Music Library Association, and elsewhere.

Table of Contents

Forward Acknowledgments Timeline Introduction Chapter 1: Crazy Blues Chapter 2: Any Woman's Blues Chapter 3: 'Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do Chapter 4: Reckless Blues Chapter 5: Money Blues Chapter 6: Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer Chapter 7: Bessie Only Pays For It Chapter 8 Selected Listening Cited Works Bibliography Index About The Author

Customer Reviews