Music of the Roaring Twenties: Bessie Smith


Bessie Smith (1894 – 1937) had a short but successful life. She began by busking on the streets of Chattanooga with her brother to earn money for their family. Her big break came when she was signed to Colombia Records in 1923.

Before the 1920s the Blues was considered lower class music not worthy of listening to. Fortunately, by the 1920s, Blues had become mainstream as people discovered how much the Blues had to offer the world with its simplicity and real-life gritty themes. We can thank early Blues artists for later inspiring generations of rock musicians right up until today. In 1989, Bessie Smith was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame as an ‘Early Influence’ which demonstrates the impact she had on 20th century popular music. Here’s a selection of her work:


Music of the Roaring Twenties: Annette Hanshaw


Annette Hanshaw was jazz singer in the 20s and 30s. She had a lovely soft and soothing voice mixed the energy and fun of a flapper. She didn’t think much of her own voice and had a short career, quitting the music business after getting married. Personally I think some of that nonchalance added to her charm. Here’s some of my favourite songs by Annette…