[Dixielandjazz] This week's streaming links on Riverwalk

Don Mopsick mophandl at landing.com
Thu Mar 18 01:05:36 PST 2004

Here are this week's streaming links. Remember to copy and paste the entire

min shows

Windows dial-up:
min shows

Windows broadband:
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Bessie, Billie and The Blues

This week on Riverwalk Jazz, The Jim Cullum Jazz Band features singers Carol
Woods, Topsy Chapman, and Linda Hopkins  at the Landing as we continue to
celebrate National Women's History Month with a show devoted to the "First
Ladies of the Blues."

In American music, "blues" can describe a tonality, a formal structure, or
just a feeling. In the 1920s and 30s, songwriters and publishers often used
"blues" in the titles of songs that did not have a 12-bar blues form or
blues tonality, in order to "cash in" on the popularity of genuine blues

The first artists to record rural blues were men from the Mississippi Delta
region such as Robert Johnson (1912-1938) and Leadbelly (1889-1932). They
accompanied themselves on 6 or 12 string guitars, singing a folk blues that
probably had changed very little since the 19th century.

Mamie Smith (1883-1946) was the first woman to record blues songs in 1920
with her versions of Perry Bradford's "Crazy Blues," and "It's Right Here
for You" on Okeh Records.

The record was a wild success, selling over a million copies in less than a
year, and finally ending up selling over two million copies. After this,
record companies saw financial opportunity in selling what was then called
"race records" to urban African-American minorities.

The success of "Crazy Blues" prompted other record companies to also try to
find other female blues singers that could match the sales of "Crazy Blues."

The most important of these was Bessie Smith (1895-1937).  Starting out as a
vaudeville performer, in 1923 Bessie made her recording debut with "Gulf
Coast Blues" and "Down Hearted Blues." The record sold more than 750,000
copies that same year.

Bessie was one of the biggest stars of the 1920s and was popular with both
whites and African-Americans, but by 1931 the Classic Blues style of Bessie
Smith was out of style.

The greatest exponent of the next generation of female blues performers was
Billie Holiday (1915-1959). Building on the work of her musical models Louis
Armstrong and Bessie Smith, "Lady Day" created a widely influential singing
style deeply rooted in the blues.

Based on Riverwalk script ©2003 by Margaret Moos Pick


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