Bessie Smith (1894-1937), also known as the Empress of Blues, is considered one of the greatest jazz and blues vocalists of the 1920s. Her influences can be seen and heard in performers such as Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin.
1989 awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
1989 inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
2001 "Downhearted Blues" named one of the Songs of the Century by the National Endowment for the Arts
2002 "Downhearted Blues" placed on the National Recording Preservation Board by the Library of Congress
2006 "Downhearted Blues" placed in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Bessie / directed by Dee Rees. Library call number DVD DRAMA BES
Jazz Episode 3 / directed by Ken Burns. Library call number DVD DOCU JAZ 3