Women in the Performing Arts

Bessie Smith

29-cent Bessie Smith stamp
The Bessie Smith stamp was issued September 17, 1994.

Bessie Smith (1892-1937) is another prominent blues singer of the 1920’s. Smith started as a street musician and then went to vaudeville, but she achieved real success after she worked with “Ma” Gertrude Rainey. Once she formed a friendship with Rainey, Smith was signed by Columbia Records in 1923, and it was during her contract with them that she produced her most influential album, Down Hearted Blues. In 1937 Bessie Smith tragically died in an auto accident.