Experiencing Bessie Smith: A Listener's Companion

Experiencing Bessie Smith: A Listener's Companion

by John Clark

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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: 9781442243415
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 10/06/2017
Series: Listener's Companion
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 2 MB

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

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
About The Author

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