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Extended Audio Sample Bessie, by Chris Albertson Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Chris Albertson Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Bessie Smith, the great singer known as the “Empress of the Blues,” is considered by many to be the greatest blues singer of all time. She was also a successful vaudeville entertainer who became the highest paid African American performer of the roaring twenties.

Chris Albertson’s revised and expanded edition of the biography of this extraordinary artist debunks many of the myths that have circulated since her untimely death in 1937. He seeks to write with insight and candor about the singer’s personal life and her career, supplementing his historical research with dozens of interviews with her relatives, friends, and associates, in particular Ruby Walker Smith, a niece by marriage who toured with Bessie for over a decade.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The most devastating, provocative, and enlightening work of its kind ever contributed to the annals of jazz literature.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “"A remarkably clear-eyed examination of Smith’s personality (and sexuality) and, more important, of the gritty and greedy music business.”

    Atlantic Monthly

  • “Robertson Dean offers a solid reading of this biography of Bessie Smith…This book, an update of an earlier version, shines a light on Smith and offers perspective on the era’s artistic community as well as Smith’s rise and untimely death.”


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About the Author

Chris Albertson is the acknowledged authority on Bessie Smith. A longtime contributor to Stereo Review, Down Beat, Saturday Review, and other publications, he has written extensive liner notes for jazz and blues albums and has produced a wide array of recordings, including radio and television programs.