Did You Know
If you asked a “Blues” enthusiast who was the first person to record a “Blues” song, they’d be able to whistle out her name without hesitation but for those of you who would answer with, “Um…, let me think”… we have the answer for you. And get this, it wasn’t a man, and she was a Negro, that’s what “Blacks” were called in the early lives of Black Americans.
By the age of 10 she was touring with the Four Dancing Mitchells, and by the age of 20, she became a legendary sensation with the release of what has been voted to be the very first ‘blues’ vocal recording. Not by her label, or manager, or fans, but those that study music; industry scholars. This Pulitzer of music award was given to the talented actress and singer, Mamie Smith!
On August 20, 1920 Mamie Smith and Perry Bradford entered the Okeh Studios in New York with a group of brothers, that’s Black men, musicians known as the Jazz Hounds and history was made with the recording of “Crazy Blues”. The song was widely considered the first blues song on record.
The recording sold an astronomical 75,000 copies within 30 days of being released. This was the door kicked opened so that the talents of Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ethel Waters, Aretha Franklin, Janis Jopin, KoKo Taylor, Millie Jackson, Lacee, Karen Wolfe, Denise LaSalle, Betty Wright, Trudy Lynn, Nellie Travis, and any other ‘female’ singer you’ve heard perform, got her chance. The overwhelming acceptance of “Crazy Blues” took over audiences both blacks and whites. This immediately prompted other recording companies to sign female black blues singers to capture the new “race records” market.
While “Crazy Blues” is cited as the first blues recording, it also represents the emergence of black female singers into popular music culture. This means she opened the door for ALL female singers from all genres of music. The record was purchased by black and white consumers and was recognized as a lucrative marketing segment by studios and record company executives.
So, did you know, ‘Blues’ opened the door not just for artist of it’s genre, but for all female artist we enjoy today.
Enjoy the sounds of the record that has a life changing footprint in the music we all enjoy and love today called “The Blues”!
The Back Porch Magazine – Where The Music Rocks Your Soul