Blues Empress in Black Chattanooga: Bessie Smith and the by Michelle R. Scott

By Michelle R. Scott

As one of many first African American vocalists to be recorded, Bessie Smith is a well known determine in American pop culture and African American heritage. Michelle R. Scott makes use of Smith's existence as a lens to enquire large matters in heritage, together with industrialization, Southern rural to city migration, black group improvement within the post-emancipation period, and black working-class gender conventions.

Arguing that the increase of blues tradition and the luck of lady blues artists like Bessie Smith are hooked up to the quick migration and industrialization within the overdue 19th and early 20th centuries, Scott focuses her research on Chattanooga, Tennessee, the massive business and transportation heart the place Smith was once born. This examine explores how the growth of the Southern railroads and the advance of iron foundries, metal generators, and sawmills created tremendous employment possibilities within the postbellum period. Chronicling the expansion and improvement of the African American Chattanooga neighborhood, Scott examines the Smith family's migration to Chattanooga and the preferred track of black Chattanooga throughout the first decade of the 20 th century, and culminates by way of delving into Smith's early years at the vaudeville circuit.

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Extra resources for Blues Empress in Black Chattanooga: Bessie Smith and the Emerging Urban South

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108 The Howard Free School was one of the next institutions Chattanooga freedpersons developed in the postbellum era. Conceived and organized in 1865 and physically built in 1870, with aid from the AMA and Rev. Ewing O. 110 The initial faculty at Howard included Reverend Tade, Mrs. A. L. Tade, Mollie Tade, E. E. Palmer, L. C. Palmer, K. S. Mattison, A. M. 111 These men and women worked diligently to teach literacy to the freedmen and eventually instructed a number of black men and women who went on to become teachers at other institutions throughout the South.

96 Although military occupation and the existence of the Freedmen’s Bureau prevented these sentiments from being realized during the initial years of emancipation, racism would offer great social and political obstacles to a peaceful transition to freedom in the greater East Tennessee region. 30 blues empress in bl ack chat tanooga Postbellum social conditions in Chattanooga were not as contentious as they were in East Tennessee at large. 97 McKenzie’s assertions are supported by the accounts of Tennessee former slaves.

It belongs to the white congregation of a Cumberland Presbyterian church. I stood at the door and looked in—and such confusion of sights and sounds! The Negroes were holding a revival meeting. Some were standing, others moving from one seat to another, several exhorting along the aisles. The whole congregation kept up one loud monotonous strain, interrupted by various sounds: groans and screams and clapping of hands. One woman specially under the influence of the excitement went across he church in a quick succession of leaps.

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