Ladies Singin’ the Blues

This semester, I’m in a course on Blues and Jazz in African-American Literature and Film. I’ve been introduced to so many musicians that I wasn’t really into before. I’ve learned (and heard) a lot about people I only knew the names of.

Each week we cover another book and discuss how it relates to Blues and Jazz. The book of the week was Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues and let me tell you, I have such a new-found respect for these jazz and blues women. They are incredible people who faced so much, being a women, being black, not having money, battling drug abuse, and through it all, they made incredible music.

I’ve posted two of my favorite songs so far down below, one by Ma Rainey and one by her protegé Bessie Smith. Couple of things. I can never get over how incredibly gutsy Ma Rainey’sProve it on Me Blues is, especially for her time. Next, Bessie Smith. She stared down the KKK when they tried to cause trouble at one of her concerts. As my professor said, “Bessie, you’re crazy.” I just love this song by her. I didn’t pick a Holiday song because I have picked a favorite or hers yet.


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