By Grace Ericson
Hi, my name is Bessie Smith. I was born April 15, 1894 In Chattanooga, TN. I am a black American jazz singer of the 1920s and 30s known as the "Empress of the Blues."
In 1923 I was signed to Columbia records. I was one of the most popular female blues singers and one of the greatest of my era and was a major influence on other singers.
Some of Bessie Smith's accomplishments include that her first recording, "Downhearted Blues," backed with "Golf Coast Blues," sold an estimated 800,000 copies. She had about 160 recordings in a career that spanned between 1923 and 1933. She was killed in a car crash in 1937 at age 43, but in 1989 she was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001 her song "Downhearted Blues" was named one of the Songs of the Century by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2002 it was placed on the National Recording Preservation Board by the Library of Congress, and in 2006 it was placed in the Grammy Hall of Fame.