Posts Tagged ‘mamie smith’

Ralph Pier, because of the popularity of jazz, wanted to record “The music it was based on: The Blues”.  Of course, it wasn’t based on the blues, but they share many of the same origins, and developed in parallel.  The female blues singers like Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith used jazz backup bands and sang a sophisticated, jazzed up, mellow version of the blues.

Mamie Smith is recognized as the first African-American to record a vocal blues, the Crazy Blues for the OKeh label on August 10, 1920. Sophie Tucker was supposed to record, but couldn’t make it to the session so Mamie took over.  Sophie, a white woman, was supposed to record a blues.

Mamie’s band at this session, the Jazz Hounds, included Johnny Dunn on cornet, Dope Andrews on trombone, Leroy Parker on violin, and Willie “The Lion” Smith on piano.

The success of this release set off a recording boom previously unheard of, with record companies scrambling to record woman blues singers.
Mamie recorded for the Okeh label 1920-1923, for Ajax in 1924, the Victor label in 1926, and Okeh in 1929 and 1931, each time in New York City.    Mamie Smith’s recording of Crazy Blues becomes the first “race” record to sell over 250,000 copies.

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