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A Birth of the Blues

A YouTube History of Music

Early Blues 2

Harmonica - Piano - Voice - Other Instruments

Group & Last Name Index to Full History:


Tracks are listed in chronological order by year, then alphabetically.

Listings do not reflect proper order by month or day: later oft precedes earlier.

Not on this page? See history tree below.



Texas Alexander    Lovie Austin

DeFord Bailey    Blues Serenaders
Leroy Carr    Lillie Delk Christian    Doctor Clayton    Ida Cox
Thomas A Dorsey (Georgia Tom)    Arizona Dranes
WC Handy    Robert Hoffman    Rosetta Howard
Noah Lewis
Antonio Maggio    Memphis Jug Band    Sara Martin    Jelly Roll Morton
Ma Rainey
Will Shade    Bessie Smith    Clara Smith    Mamie Smith    Trixie Smith    Victoria Spivey    Roosevelt Sykes
Hociel Thomas
Sippie Wallace   Hart Wand    Ethel Waters    Georgia White    Sonny Boy Williamson I



Featured on this page loosely in order of first recording if not record release (as possible).

Names are alphabetical, not chronological, per year:



Robert Hoffman    Antonio Maggio    Hart Wand

1917 WC Handy
1920 Mamie Smith
1921 Ethel Waters
1922 Sara Martin    Trixie Smith
1923 Lovie Austin    Blues Serenaders    Ida Cox    Jelly Roll Morton     Bessie Smith    Clara Smith    Sippie Wallace
1924 Ma Rainey
1925 Lillie Delk Christian (Hociel Thomas)
1926 Arizona Dranes    Victoria Spivey
1927 Texas Alexander    DeFord Bailey    Memphis Jug Band    Will Shade
1928 Leroy Carr    Thomas A Dorsey (George Tom)    Noah Lewis
1929 Roosevelt Sykes
1930 Georgia White
1935 Doctor Clayton
1937 Rosetta Howard    Sonny Boy Williamson I


  Formally, what distinguishes the blues from other musical genres is a matter of bar and stanza structure, tonality (key) and flattened "blue" notes. Otherwise, for some, the blues are a branch of folk music, deriving out of the deep south (Louisiana, Mississippi). Good examples of that are in Blues 1. But this page more views (for a large part) the blues deriving from early (urban) jazz. (Ragtime blues can be found in Early Jazz 1, Early Jazz 2 and Early Jazz 3.)

The term, "the blues," is thought to have first been used in the ragtime sheet music of Antonio Maggio, publishing a song titled, 'I Got the Blues', in 1908. In 1909 Robert Hoffman published 'I'm Alabama Bound', also promoted as 'The Alabama Blues'. (There is speculation that the term was used as early as 1872 on a song titled, 'Got Dem Blues', but no verification of such is found.) Little is known about either Maggio or Hoffman, but their sheet music has been rendered by Dorian Henry below:

Antonio Maggio   Composition: 1908

   I Got the Blues

      Pianist: Dorian Henry

Robert Hoffman   Composition: 1909

   I'm Alabama Bound (The Alabama Blues)

      Pianist: Dorian Henry



Hart Wand, an Oklahoma City violinist and band leader, is generally credited with composing and publishing the "first" blues song, 'Dallas Blues', in 1912 (which entries above show to be not quite true). Wand was born in 1887 in Topeka. He was more a businessman than a composer. His father was a druggist with a drugstore in Topeka, then Oklahoma City upon the Land Rush in 1889. Wand inherited the business upon his father's death in 1909, whence he took it to Chicago, then New Orleans, then expanded sales throughout the world. He thus had little time to indulge in his love of music. Which may be why he didn't record 'Dallas Blues': the version to which this history points is rendered by pianist, Sue Keller. Wand died in New Orleans on August 9, 1960, 73 years of age.

Hart Wand   Composition: 1912

   Dallas Blues

      Pianist: Sue Keller



Birth of the Blues: Hart Wand

Hart Wand

Source: Wikipedia


Birth of the Blues: WC Handy

William Christopher Handy

Source:  Historic Memphis

William Handy, a brass musician, is often called the "Father" of the blues. Born in Florence, Alabama, in 1873, Handy's parents were very religious, his father a pastor. The story goes that as a youth Handy had saved money to buy a guitar. But upon doing so his father made him return it, then enrolled him in organ lessons, the guitar an instrument associated with the undesirable, the organ otherwise. But Handy didn't like playing organ. So he purchased a cornet. It isn't known what his parents thought of that instrument. But Handy kept his membership in a local band secret. He put together his first band, the Lauzetta Quartet, in 1892, which disbanded the same year. But the next year finds Handy playing cornet at the Chicago World's Fair. At age 23 (1896) Handy became leader of Mahara's Colored Minstrels, with which he toured from Chicago to points south, including Texas and Cuba. In 1900 Handy began teaching music at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. But Handy preferred Southern folk to classical, so in 1902 he put together a minstrel group and traveled throughout Mississippi to study the blues. Handy eventually took his band to Memphis in 1909 where they played the clubs on Beale Street, now long since famous as the hub of Delta blues. It was 1912 when he published the sheet music for 'Memphis Blues' (originally titled 'Mister Crump'). Various versions below include an early piano roll by Eubie Blake, an instrumental band version, a vocal version and, finally, a solo version by Handy himself. 'St. Louis Blues' and 'Bunch of Blues' below are recordings by Handy. The versions of 'Yellow Dog Blues' below include its third recording in 1919. Handy expected to earn about a hundred dollars from it. But it was so successful that it's turned out to be the highest selling recording of his music. The second version below is a piano solo, thanks again to pianist Sue Keller. Starting in 1926 Handy would write five books concerning the blues. In his later years he moved to Harlem where he was blinded by a fall from a subway platform in 1943. (So many Southern blues artists were either born blind or blinded along the way that we do not even mention it in the histories of a few of them in Blues 1, as like being blind or going blind was a prerequisite to blues musicianship. Rather phenomenal even when one consider that there were few ways for a blind person to survive in those past years but by busking on the streets for change.) Handy died ion March 28, 1958, of bronchial pneumonia. His funeral was attended by some 25,000, another 150,000 in the streets.

William Handy   ?

   Memphis Blues

      Composition 1912   Piano roll by Eubie Blake

William Handy   1914

   Memphis Blues

      Composition 1912

      Recorded July 15 by the Victor Military Band

   Memphis Blues

      Composition 1912

      Recorded October 2 by Morton Harvey

William Handy   ?

   Memphis Blues

      Composition 1912   William Handy

William Handy   1917

   Bunch of Blues

William Handy   1919

   Yellow Dog Blues

      Composition 1914   Joseph Smith Orchestra

William Handy   1939

   St. Louis Blues

      Composition: 1914

William Handy   ?

   Yellow Dog Blues

      Composition 1914   Pianist: Sue Keller



Birth of the Blues: Mamie Smith

Mamie Smith

Born in Cincinnati in 1883, Mamie Smith ("Queen of the Blues"), a vaudeville singer, was the first woman to record vocal blues with 'Crazy Blues' in 1920, that with her Jazz Hounds and so popular that a million copies of it were sold. She had actually earlier recorded in NYC with the Rega Orchestra on Valentine's Day that year, two titles issued by Okeh: 'That Thing Called Love' and 'You Can't Keep a Good Man Down'. Smith had begun her career at age ten by joining a dancing troupe called the Four Dancing Mitchells. She then joined a troupe called the Smart Set. In 1913 she began singing in clubs in Harlem. Upon the great success of 'Crazy Blues', Smith continued to record and toured both the United States and Europe with her band, the Jazz Hounds. Of the four famous early female blues vocalists named Smith, none related, Mamie's biggest rivals were Bessie and Clara, Trixie not so much. Smith made her debut film appearance in 'Jailhouse Blues' in 1929. Her last known recording was also for film, 'Lord! Lord!' in 1942 with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra for the short feature, 'Because I Love You'. That would later get issued on 'Mamie Smith Vol 5: Goin' Crazy With The Blues (1924-1942). Smith died September 16, 1946. A partial list of Smith's recordings with compositional credits. See also australiancharts. Per 'Crazy Blues' below, Bradford had originally titled it 'Harlem Blues'. 

Mamie Smith   1920 

   Crazy Blues

     Composition: Perry Bradford

Mamie Smith   1921

   A Little Kind Treatment

     Composition: Howard Rogers/Maceo Pinkard

   Let's Agree to Disagree

     Co-written w Jimmy Durante

   Wang Wang Blues

     Music: Busse/Mueller/Johnson

     Lyrics: Leo Wood

Mamie Smith   1926

   Goin' Crazy With the Blues

     Composition: Andy Razaf/J.C. Johnson

Mamie Smith   1929  

   My Sportin' Man

Mamie Smith   1931  

   Jenny's Ball

     Composition: Jimmy Reed

Mamie Smith   1935  

   Harlem Blues


     Composition: Perry Bradford



Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1896, Ethel Waters ("Blackbird") first recorded in 1921, first a couple jazz songs ('The New York Glide' and 'At the New Jump Steady Ball'), then a couple blues tunes ('Oh Daddy' and 'Down Home Blues'). Waters had married at age thirteen. But he was abusive, to which she preferred to become a maid in Philadelphia. At age 17 she attended a nightclub costume party at which she was requested to sing a couple songs. That led to her first professional gig at Lincoln Theatre in Baltimore. Ten dollars a week, with tips thrown on stage by the audience taken by the managers, after which she began touring the vaudeville circuit. She eventually settled in Harlem where she played the clubs (eventually the prestigious Cotton Club) and began recording, making such a name for herself that she would soon be working with such as Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson. Her first film appearance is thought to be 'On With the Show' in 1929, though she earlier played Broadway as well. She then topped it all off with a couple autobiographies: 'His Eye Is On the Sparrow' and 'To Me, It's Wonderful'. Waters died in California September 1, 1977, 80 years of age. A partial list of Waters' recordings with compositional credits. See also australiancharts. More Ethel Waters to be found in A Birth of Swing Jazz. Also find her under pianist James Johnson in Early Jazz 3.

Ethel Waters   1921

   Down Home Blues

     Composition: Tom Delaney

   Oh Daddy

     Composition: Ed Herbert/William Russell

   Am I Blue?

     Composition: Harry Akst/Grant Clarke

   Am I Blue?

      Film: 'On With the Show'

     Composition: Harry Akst/Grant Clarke


Birth of the Blues: Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters

Photo: Carl Van Vechten

Source: Ethel Waters


Birth of the Blues: Sara Martin with Sylvester Weaver

Sara Martin    Sylvester Weaver

Source: Terry's Songs

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1884, Sara Martin was a highly popular blues vocalist who started her career doing vaudeville, later moving on to jug band music. Her first recording is thought to have been for Okeh in NYC on October 17, 1922, with Clarence Williams on piano: 'Sugar Blues'. hey also put down 'Achin' Hearted Blues' that month. She moved from Okeh to Columbia for her next session on November 18 with Arthur Whetsol (trumpet), Claude Hopkins (piano) and Elmer Snowden (banjo) to lay down 'I Loved You Once' and 'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do'. She was back with Okeh on December 1 for another rendition of 'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do' with 'You Got Ev'ry Thing', those with pianist, Fats Waller. Another session with Waller followed a couple weeks later on the 14th for 'Mama's Got the Blues' and 'Last Go Round Blues'. April 6 of 1923 found Martin with Williams again for 'Keeps on a-rainin'' and 'Joe Turner Blues'. Williams would be among the more important figures in Martin's career, he supporting her operation throughout her next five years with Okeh to circa December of 1928 in Long Island City, NY, for 'Mean Tight Mama', 'Mistreatin' Man Blues' and 'Kitchen Man Blues'. Guitarist, Sylvester Weaver, was another of her companions, they recording a couple duets on October 31, 1923 for Okeh: 'Longing for Daddy Blues' and 'I've Got to Go'. They saw multiple sessions together in various small configurations until August 30, 1927, witnessed their last duets together, such as 'Loving is What I Crave' and 'Orn'ry Blues'. Following her recording career with Okeh Martin appeared in films, 'Hello Bill' in 1929 and 'Darktown Revue' in 1931. She also worked during that period as a stage performer, touring eastern cities as well as the Caribbean. Martin pulled out of the music business in 1932 to run a nursing home in Louisville. She died of stroke on May 24 of 1955. Partial lists of Martin's recordings with compositional credits at australiancharts and redhotjazz.

Sara Martin   1922

   Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do


       Porter Grainger/Everett Robbins   1922

Sara Martin   1923

   Mistreated Mama

      With Sylvester Weaver


       Billy Smythe/Ben Brown/Syl Yunker   1923

Sara Martin   1924

   I'm Gonna Be a Lovin' Old Soul

      Jug band

Sara Martin   1927

   Where Shall I Be?

      With Sylvester Weaver

     Composition: Charles Price Jones   1904

Sara Martin   1928

   Death Stung Me Blues

      With King Oliver



Born in Atlanta in 1895, Trixie Smith attended Selma University in Alabama before heading to New York where she began working minstrels and vaudeville. She first recorded in January 1922 in NYC for Black Swan: 'Desperate Blues' and 'Trixie's Blues'. A session with James Johnson's Harmony Eight followed in March for 'You Missed a Good Woman' and 'Long Lost Weary Blues'. A couple titles followed in April before two with the Jazz Masters in September: 'Give Me That Old Slow Drag' and 'My Man Rocks Me (With One Steady Roll)'. That was followed in October by what are thought to be her first with her band, the Down Home Syncopators: "I'm Through with You as I Can Be', 'Take It Daddy' and 'Just a Little Bit More'. Of the four famous early female blues vocalists named Smith, none related, Trixie's rivals who were Bessie, Clara and Mamie were considerably more successful. Which isn't to say, however, that Trixie wasn't. Issuing nearly 50 titles, she shook legs with premier musicians like Louis Armstrong. Armstrong was in Fletcher Henderson's orchestra in January of 1925 for 'Everybody Loves My Baby' and 'How Come You Do Me Like You Do?'. He joined her Down Home Syncopators the next month for 'You've Got to Beat Me to Keep Me' and 'Mining Camp Blues'. Upon the waning of her career as a blues vocalist in the latter twenties Smith made her living in cabaret and stage revues. In the thirties she made four film appearances. Her last recording is thought to have been on June 14 of 1939 for 'No Good Man' (Decca 7617) with a group including Henry Red Allen on trumpet and Sid Catlett on drums. That would later get issued on 'Trixie Smith Vol 2 1925-1939'. Unfortunately Smith died relatively young in New York, age 48, on September 21, 1943. A partial list of Smith's recordings with compositional credits. Other than those noted below she composed such as 'Mining Camp Blues' in 1925 and 'Trixie Blues' in 1938.

Trixie Smith   1922

   My Man Rocks Me

     Composition: J. Berni Barbour

   Railroad Blues

    With Louis Armstrong

     Composition: Trixie Smith

   The World's Jazz Crazy and So Am I

     Composition: Trixie Smith

Trixie Smith   1938

   Freight Train Blues

     Composition: Thomas Dorsey/Everett Murphy

   Jack, I'm Mellow

     Composition: Gerry/House

   My Daddy Rocks Me

     Composition: J. Berni Barbour


Birth of the Blues: Trixie Smith 

Trixie Smith

Source: Yehoodi


Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1887, pianist Lovie Austin studied music at Roger Williams University and Knoxville College in Knoxville.before joining Ida Cox in Chicago in June of 1923 for 'Any Woman's Blues', ''Bama Bound Blues' and 'Lovin' Is the Thing I'm Wild About'. That same month Austin's ensemble, the Blues Serenaders, backed Cox on 'Graveyard Dream Blues' and 'Weary Way Blues'. Austin and Cox would record numerously together to 1926. Among other vocalists Austin's Serenaders early supported was Ma Rainey, their first session together in December of '23 for tracks like 'Bo-Weavil Blues' and 'Those All Night Long Blues'. Upon the waning of her impressive career as a pianist Rainey assumed the role, for two decades, of musical director for the Monogram Theater in Chicago. It was in Chicago that Austin died on July 10, 1972. Partial lists of Austin's recordings with songwriting credits at allmusic and discogs. See also Red Hot Jazz 1, 2.

Lovie Austin   1923

   Graveyard Dream Blues

      With Ida Cox

     Composition: Ida Cox

   Last Minute Blues

      With Ma Rainey

     Composition: Thomas Dorsey

Lovie Austin   1924

   Bo-weavil Blues

      With Ma Rainey

     Composition: Austin/Rainey

Lovie Austin   1925

   Don't Shake It No More

     Composition: Thomas Dorsey


Birth of the Blues: Lovie Austin

Lovie Austin

Source: Red Hot Jazz



Born in Georgia in 1896, Ida Cox began recording blues in 1923. Cox had begun her career at age fourteen, leaving home to tour with White and Clark's Black & Tan Minstrels. She worked with several minstrel shows, most notably the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, while gaining experience in vaudeville. By 1920 she had largely put vaudeville behind her, now headlining as a blues singer, which performing with Jelly Roll Morton that year pretty much nailed. Since Bessie Smith was already "Queen of the Blues" Cox was billed as the "Uncrowned Queen of the Blues" when she began recording for Paramount in 1923. In 1929 she and her husband, Jesse Crump, put together a tent show called 'Raisin' Cain' which enjoyed great popularity for a decade, during which time she was billed as the "Sepia Mae West". In 1945 Cox suffered a stroke during a show which forced her into retirement. Retreating to a quiet life in Knoxville, Tennessee, she did, however, make one last record release in 1961, an album titled 'Blues For Rampart Street'. Cox died in 1967 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Partial lists of Cox' recordings with songwriting credits at allmusic, australiancharts, discogs and redhotjazz. For later jazz recordings by Ida Cox see A Birth of Jazz 1. Cox composed titles below except as noted.

Ida Cox   1923

   Graveyard Dream Blues

      Piano: Lovie Austin

   I've Got the Blues for Rampart Street

   Worried Mama Blues

     Composition: Lovie Austin

Ida Cox   1925

   Coffin Blues

     Composition: Aletha Dickerson/Rose Taylor

   Wild Women Don't Have the Blues

Ida Cox   1927  

   Fore Day Creep

     Composition: Ida Cox/Jesse Crump

Ida Cox   1941

   Last Mile Blues

     Composition: Ida Cox/Jesse Crump

Ida Cox   1961

   Death Letter Blues

      Album: 'Blues for Rampart Street'

     With Coleman Hawkins

     Composition: Ida Cox/Jesse Crump


Birth of the Blues: Ida Cox

Ida Cox

Source: Jonathan Bogart


Born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe in 1890 in New Orleans, Jelly Roll Morton is thought to have begun his professional career at age fourteen, playing piano in a brothel. In 1904 he began composing while traveling the South with minstrel shows. In 1912 he began performing the vaudeville circuit with Rosa Brown. Among his first published compositions was 'Jelly Roll Blues' in 1915. He left for Hollywood in 1917, then Vancouver, where he played at a club called The Patricia. Back in Chicago in 1923, he recorded with his own orchestra as early as June, 1923, two takes each of 'Big Foot Ham' and 'Muddy Water Blues' in Chicago for Paramount. The next month he laid three piano solos for Gennett at its studios in Richmond, Indiana: 'King Porter' with two takes of 'New Orleans Joys'. July that year found him recording with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Morton's debut piano rolls are thought to have been made in the summer of 1924 for Vocalstyle in Cincinnati, Ohio: 'Mr. Jelly Lord', 'Tin Roof Blues' and 'Tom Cat Blues'. His career took off in a big way when he signed up with Victor in 1926 with his Red Hot Peppers band. Morton's first issues with the the Peppers that year were 'Black Bottom Stomp', 'Smokehouse Blues' and two takes of 'The Chant'.      During the Depression Victor chose to not renew Morton's contract. With work drying up in clubs, Morton turned to radio in 1934, then toured with a burlesque act to earn a living. In 1935 he moved to Washington D.C. to manage a bar called the Jungle Inn, which career path ended in 1938 upon being stabbed by a friend of the owner. It was also 1938 when he recorded for Eddie Lomax and the Library of Congress, resulting in 'The Complete Library of Congress Recordings', a production of 128 tracks set down between May 23 and June 12 with interviews (released as a box set of eight CDs in 2005). Morton died July 10, 1941, of complications arising from his stabbing in 1930. Compositions by Morton at discogs, redhotjazz and doctorjazz (titles in red written by Morton). See also allmusic 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Titles below were composed by Morton except as noted. More Jelly Roll Morton at Jazz 1.

Jelly Roll Morton   1923  

   King Porter Stomp

Jelly Roll Morton   1926   

   Jelly Roll Blues

Jelly Roll Morton   1930  

   Blue Blood Blues

Jelly Roll Morton   1938  

   Hesitation Blues

     Composition: Scott Middleton/Billy Smythe   1915

   Honky Tonk Blues

Jelly Roll Morton   1939

   Buddy Bolden's Blues

   West End Blues

     Composition: King Oliver/Clarence Williams   1928


Birth of the Blues: Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton

Photo: Frank Driggs Collection

Source: Mark Maynard


Born in 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bessie Smith ("Empress of the Blues") released her first recording, 'Down Hearted Blues', in 1923. Recorded in NYC on February 16 with 'Gulf Coast Blues' and 'Keeps on a-rainin', a couple earlier sessions that year witnessed the unissued titles, 'I Wish I Could Shimmy' (Okeh), 'Tain't Nobody's Business' and 'Downhearted Blues'. Of the four famous early female blues singers named Smith, none related, Bessie was the most successful with Clara and Mamie serious rivals, Trixie not so much. Bessie was to become the highest paid black musician in the business. She had begun her career busking on the streets of Chattanooga with her brother, Andrew, who played guitar. In 1912 her oldest brother, Clarence, got her a job with a traveling dance troupe, which already had its own singer: Ma Rainey. The next year found Smith working at the "81" Theater in Atlanta, as well as on the TOBA (Theater Owners Booking Association) circuit. She was living in Philadelphia by the time she made her first recording with Okeh followed by Columbia. Playing theaters during winter months, touring in summer, Smith gathered some of the biggest names in jazz to come into her fold. October of 1923, for example, found her with Coleman Hawkins and Fletcher Henderson to record 'Any Woman's Blues'. December that year saw 'Chicago Bound Blues' and 'Mistreatin' Daddy' with Don Redman and Henderson. She started 1925 in NYC on January 14 with Louis Armstrong, recording such as 'St. Louis Blues' and 'Reckless Blues'. 1927 saw such as 'Black Water Blues' with pianist, James Johnson. Smith made a Broadway appearance in 1929 ('Pansy'), the same year as her only film appearance, a short two-reeler (20 minutes or so), titled 'St. Louis Blues'. Her last recordings occurred in November 1933 with Okeh Records, for which she was paid $37.50 per title (no royalties). Among those were 'Take Me for a Buggy Ride' and 'I'm Down in the Dumps'. Smith died young, age 43, in 1937, upon a highway accident in a car driven her common-law husband, Richard Morgan. Perhaps 10,000 mourners attended her funeral. But she went without a headstone until blues singer, Janis Joplin, bought her one in 1970. More Bessie Smith under James Johnson. Recordings by Smith with compositional credits at australiancharts, allmusic 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, discogs 1, 2 and redhotjazz.

Bessie Smith   1923  

   Down Hearted Blues

     Composition: Alberta Hunter/Lovie Austin   1922

   Any Woman's Blues

     Composition: Lovie Austin

   Baby Won't You Please Come Home


     Charles Warfield/Clarence Williams 1919

   T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do


       Porter Grainger/Everett Robbins   1922

Bessie Smith   1925  

   Careless Love Blues

     Composition: Traditional

     Arrangement: Koenig/Williams/Handy

   I Ain't Got Nobody


     Spencer Williams/Roger Graham   1915

   Reckless Blues

      With Louis Armstrong

     Composition: Fred Longshaw/Jack Gee

   Yellow Dog Blues

     Composition: W.C. Handy   1922

Bessie Smith   1927  

   After You've Gone

     Composition: Turner Layton/Henry Creamer   1918

Bessie Smith   1929  

   Blue Spirit Blues

     Composition: Spencer Williams

   I'm Wild About That Thing

     Composition: Spencer Williams

   Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out

     Composition: Jimmy Cox   1923

Bessie Smith   1930  

   New Orleans Hop Scop Blues

     Composition: George Thomas

Bessie Smith   1931

   I Need a Little Sugar In My Bowl

     Composition: Clarence Williams/Tim Brymn

Bessie Smith      1933

   Give Me a Pigfoot

     Composition: Coot Grant/Wesley Wilson


Birth of the Blues: Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith

Source: Legacy Recordings

Birth of the Blues: Clara Smith

Clara Smith

Source: Magic Old America


Born in 1894 in South Carolina, Clara Smith ("Queen of the Moaners") first recorded in 1923 in NYC with Fletcher Henderson at piano. Titles in May went unissued: 'I've Got Everything a Woman Needs' and 'Every Woman's Blues'. The same rendered in June saw release by Columbia. Of the four famous early female blues singers named Smith, none related, Bessie was the most successful with Clara and Mamie serious rivals, Trixie not so much. On October 4 of 1923 Clara and Bessie recorded a couple duets with Henderson at piano titled 'Far Away Blues' and 'I'm Going Back to My Used to Be'. Smith would groove 122 tracks until 1932, Lord's disco showing March 25 of that year the last in its chronology per '(I'm Tired of) Fattening Frogs for Snakes' and 'So Long Jim'. She moved to Detroit in 1933 to participate in theatre revues until she died young of heart attack in 1935 on February 2. Recordings by Smith with songwriting credits at australiancharts, redhotjazz and allmusic 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Clara Smith   1923

   Far Away Blues

      With Bessie Smith & Fletcher Henderson

     Composition: George Brooks

Clara Smith   1924

   Don't Advertise Your Man

     Composition: Jimmy Foster

Clara Smith   1926

   Look Where the Sun Done Gone

Clara Smith   1928

   Ain't Got Nobody to Grind My Coffee

     Composition: Bud Allen

Clara Smith   1929

   Oh Mister Mitchell

     Composition: Spencer Williams


Born Beulah Thomas in 1898 in Plum Bayou, Arkansas, Sippie Wallace went to Chicago in 1923 with her brothers George and Hersal (both musicians). She wasted no time acquiring a contract with Okeh the same year, she recording 'Shorty George Blues' and 'Up the Country Blues' in October of 1923. In 1929 she moved to Detroit, largely trading blues for gospel for the next three or four decades, singing as an organ player at Leland Baptist Church. In 1966 she came out of retirement. She began touring festivals and released a couple of albums, 'Women Be Wise' and 'Sippie Wallace Sings the Blues'. She was also featured on 'Louis Armstrong and the Blues Singers' in 1966. In 1970 she issued the album, 'Sippie Wallace and Victoria Spivey' on Spivey's label. She and much younger guitarist Bonnie Raitt began collaborating in the seventies. In 1981 she grooved 'Sippie' for Atlantic Records. She starred as herself in the film, 'Jammin' with the Blues Greats', in 1982. Wallace toured Germany in 1984 to record 'An Evening with Sippie Wallace' in October with German pianist Axel Zwingenberger. She died on her 88th birthday, November 1, 1986, in Detroit. Recordings by Wallace with compositional credits. See also australiancharts and allmusic 1, 2. Wallace composed tracks below except as annotated.

Sippie Wallace   1923

   Shorty George Blues

     Composition: Hersal Thomas/George Thomas

Sippie Wallace   1924

   Off and On Blues

     Composition: Clarence Williams

   I'm So Glad I'm Brownskin

      With Sidney Bechet & Bunk Johnson

     Composition: Clarence Williams

   Trouble Everywhere I Roam

      Piano: Clarence Williams

     Composition: Hersal Thomas/Sippie Wallace

Sippie Wallace   1925

   Devil Dance Blues

      Piano: Hersal Thomas

   Every Dog Has His Day

      Piano: Hersal Thomas

   Morning Dove Blues

      Piano: Hersal Thomas

     Composition: George Thomas

Sippie Wallace   1926

   I Feel Good

      With Louis Armstrong & Hersal Thomas

     Composition: Hersal Thomas

Sippie Wallace   1929

   I'm a Mighty Tight Woman

Sippie Wallace   1945

   Buzz Me

      Piano: Albert Ammons

      Composition: Danny Baxter/Fleecie Moore


Birth of the Blues: Sippie Wallace

Sippie Wallace

Birth of the Blues: Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey

Source: Wikipedia

Born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus, Georgia, in 1886, Ma Rainey ("Mother of the Blues") released her debut recordings for Paramount, 'Bad Luck Blues' and 'Bo-Weavil Blues' in 1924, those among others per her first session in December, 1923, in Chicago. She was accompanied on those by the Blues Serenaders: Tommy Ladnier (cornet) Jimmy O'Bryant (clarinet) and Lovie Austin (piano). Rainey had begun her career as an adolescent in minstrel shows. She took the name, Ma Rainey, upon marrying Will Rainey in 1904, the same year both began touring with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. A decade later they put together their own tent show called Rainey and Rainey, in 1914. Being discovered by Paramount saw her soon recording with big names. A session on October 15, 1924, found her with Don Redman on clarinet and Fletcher Henderson on piano for 'Booze and Blues', 'Toad Frog Blues' and 'Jealous Hearted Blues'. A session the next day found her with Louis Armstrong on cornet and Buster Bailey on clarinet for such as 'See See Rider' and 'Countin' the Blues'. Pianist, Tommy Dorsey, supported her on tracks in '25 (: 'Army Camp Harmony Blues') and '28 (: 'Daddy Goodbye Blues'). It was Dorsey and Tampa Red in September of 1928 for 'Leavin' This Mornin', and 'Black Eye Blues'. With those names on her resumé Rainey could afford to tour in her own bus with her own name on it. Howsoever, Paramount just as swiftly determined her sound to be passé and dropped her the same year. She is thought to have made her last recordings in October and December of 1928 with Papa Charlie Jackson on banjo for ''Ma and Pa Poorhouse Blues' and 'Big Feeling Blues'. Rainey toured until 1933 when she returned to Georgia to run a couple of theaters she had purchased, dying of heart disease on December 22, 1939, 53 years of age. A list of Rainey's recordings with songwriting credits. Rainey composed 'Moonshine Blues' and 'Booze and Blues' below.

Ma Rainey   1924

   Bad Luck Blues

     Composition: Lovie Austin

   Bo-Weavil Blues

     Composition: Austin/Rainey

   Moonshine Blues

Ma Rainey   1924  

   Booze and Blues

Ma Rainey   1926

   Down in the Basement

      Trumpet: Doc Cheatham

     Composition: Strathdene Parham


Born in 1904 in Houston, pianist Hociel Thomas made her first blues recordings for the Gennett label in 1925. In 1926 she began recording as Lillie Delk Christian, her first titles for Okeh being 'Sweet Man' and 'Sweet Georgia Brown'. Her aunt was Sippie Wallace (above). Her father was the pianist, George Thomas. The Great Depression put an end to Christian's earlier career, which she later revived upon moving to California, recording with trumpeter Mutt Carey in 1946 (her final recordings), also working with Kid Ory in 1948 in San Francisco. That year or the next she was acquitted of a manslaughter charge upon killing one of her sisters during an argument. She died in 1952 of heart failure. Among Thomas' compositions were 'Gambler's Dream', 'Sunshine Baby', 'Adam and Eve Had the Blues', 'Put It Where I Can Get It', 'I've Stopped My Man', 'Washer Woman Blues' and 'Deep Water Blues'. Christian is backed by Louis Armstrong on each track below. More of Christian in Early Jazz 2.

Lillie Delk Christian   1925

   Washer Woman Blues

     Composition: Hociel Thomas (Christian)

Lillie Delk Christian   1926

   Deep Water Blues

     Composition: Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh

Lillie Delk Christian   1927

   I Must Have That Man

     Composition: Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh


Birth of the Blues: Hociel Thomas

Lillie Delk Christian

Source: Red Hot Jazz

  Born blind in Sherman, Texas, just south of eastern Oklahoma, in 1889 or '91 as Juanita Drane (possibly Drain), "Arizona" Dranes is thought to have composed such as 'Crucifixion', 'Sweet Heaven Is My Home', 'God's Got a Crown', 'He Is My Story' and 'Just Look'. She learned piano as a teenager after attending the Texas Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind Colored Youth in Austin. She's an apt example of the divergence of blues and gospel as well as the Holiness (Pentecostal) gospel of the Bible Belt region versus the black gospel that Thomas A Dorsey would center in Chicago. Dorsey was a Baptist but Pentecostals would soon take the reins. As mentioned, Dranes was Pentecostal as well, belonging to the Church of God in Christ in Wichita Falls. She first recorded with Okeh Records in 1926, globaldogproductions documenting 10 possible tracks that year, a few of them highly likely according to a 1976 Herwin Records release of Dranes' recordings between 1926 and '28. Dranes is largely known due to having been an influence on Dorsey's black gospel movement farther northeast in Illinois. Like Dorsey, she had both merged blues and gospel in their sharing of common roots, and distinguished them separately, one secular for playing at barrelhouses, the other spiritual for performing in church. She otherwise toured into the forties, drawing attention to black gospel in general before settling in Los Angeles in 1948. She there passed away in July of 1963, black gospel yet rowing strong in its golden period. Among Dranes' greatest contributions was simply adding piano to gospel music that was usually performed by a capella choral groups, then arranging voice to emphasized piano rather than using the instrument only for accompaniment. Roberta Martin would later make similar use of the piano in gospel.

Arizona Dranes   1926


   In That Day

   John Said He Saw a Number

   My Soul Is a Witness for the Lord

Arizona Dranes   1928

   God's Got a Crown


Birth of the Blues: Arizona Dranes

Arizona Dranes

Source: NPR

Birth of the Blues: Victoria Spivey

Victoria Spivey

Source: Smokestack Lightnin'

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1906, Victoria Spivey wrote such as 'Black Snake Blues', 'Dope Head Blues' and 'Organ Grinder Blues'. She first recorded with 'Black Snake Blues' and 'Dirty Woman Blues' in 1926. Spivey's career began with her father who had a string band. When he died, she age seven, she continued performing at such as parties. In 1918 she left Houston for Dallas to accompany silent films at the Lincoln Theater, whence she began performing in nightclubs (also meeting Blind Lemon Jefferson). In 1926 she moved to St. Louis where she signed on to Okeh Records, recording 'Black Snake Blues' and ''Dirty Woman's Blues' on May 11, 1926. Two days later she was with Pierce Gist (cornet) and De Lloyd Barnes (piano) for 'Long Gone Blues' and 'No More Jelly Bean Blues'. Come August 13, 1926, for what may have been her first session with guitarist/violinist, Lonnie Johnson, perhaps with John Erby on piano for 'Big Houston Blues' and 'Got the Blues So Bad'. Johnson and Spivey would see one another numerously to 1929, Lord's disco showing a last date together for duets on July 3, those being two parts to 'You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now'. They would reunite in 1961 for tracks to Spivey's 'Idle Hours' and 'Woman Blues'. April 12 of 1965 found Johnson backing titles to 'The Queen and Her Knights'. Among the highlights of her early career was opportunity to put down tracks on July 10 of 1929 with jazz giant in the becoming, Louis Armstrong, Okeh to issue 'Funny Feathers' and 'How Do You Do It That Way?'. Others with whom she early recorded were King Oliver ('28) and Henry Red Allen ('29). The Great Depression put most of the blues industry to thin strings. But Spivey was fortunate to be able to transition to films, her first appearance in 1929 in 'Hallelujah!'. Spivey retired from the entertainment industry in 1951, then resumed her career ten years later per Lonnie Johnson above. Highlighting that period was a session on March 2 of 1962 for her own label, Spivey Records (1961-85), with guitarist, Big Joe Williams, and folk singer, Bob Dylan, for the title, 'It's Dangerous'. The last certain recording date given her in Lord's discography was at Chelsea House in Brattleboro, Vermont on May 22, 1976. Accompanied by Danny Russo, among others, they performed 'T.B. Blues' and 'Organ Grinder Blues'. Spivey died several months later of internal hemorrhage on October 3, 1976, she 69 years of age. Compositions by Spivey are noted at australiancharts, redhotjazz and allmusic 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Titles below are thought to be written by Spivey.

Victoria Spivey   1926  

   Black Snake Blues

Victoria Spivey   1927  

   Dirty TB Blues

   Dope Head Blues

Victoria Spivey   1929

   How Do They Do It That Way

     Composition: Spivey/Reuben Floyd

   Moaning the Blues

   Don't Trust Nobody Blues

Victoria Spivey   1934  

   Any Kind of Man

Victoria Spivey   1936  

   Detroit Moan  

Victoria Spivey   1963

   T B Blues

      Live performance

Victoria Spivey   1976  

   You're My Man (Slick Chick Blues)




Blues singer Alger Texas Alexander was born in Jewett, Texas, about 100 miles south of Dallas in 1900. Like other bluesmen Alexander busked streets and sang at various gatherings, that when not working for the railroad. He is said to have performed with Blind Lemon Jefferson during his early days. He turned up in New York City in 1927 to make his first recordings with Okeh session guitarist, Lonnie Johnson. American Music has him in sessions on the 11th, 12th, 16th and 17th of August, starting with 'Long Lonesome Day Blues' (OKeh 8511) and 'Range In My Kitchen Blues' (OKeh 8526). In 1928 he would be backed by Johnson and guitarist, Eddie Lang. et al. AM wants his first that year with both of them on November 15 for 'Work Ox Blues' (OKeh 8658) and 'The Risin' Sun' (OKeh 8673). 1929 witnessed Alexander in San Antonio, TX, recording with guitarists, Little Hat Jones ('Ninety-Eight Degree Blues', et al) and Carl Davis ('Rolling Mill Blues', et al). June 9, 1930, brought titles in San Antonio with the Mississippi Sheiks (Bo Chatman at violin and Sam Chatman on guitar) such as 'She's So Far', 'Rolling and Stumbling Blues', et al. American Music (AM) shows a gap in sessions between 1930 and April 9, 1934, Alexander to record titles with his Sax Black Tams in San Antonio on that date like 'Blues in My Mind'/'Mistreatin' Woman' (Vocalion 02743), et al. Several titles followed later that September in Ft. Worth with likely guitarist, Willie Reed, such as 'Justice Blues'/'Easy Rider Blues' (Vocalion 02856). AM doesn't have Alexander in another session for sixteen years after September, 1934. That arrived in Houston in 1950 with Benton's Busy Bees, thought to be his final titles per 'Bottoms Blues' and 'Crossroads' (Freedom 1538). It's alleged and disputed if Alexander murdered his wife in 1939, then served five years in prison. Nor is it confirmed that he spent any time on a work farm for singing "lewd" lyrics. Alexander is thought to have spent his latter years in Houston. He died of syphilis on April 18, 1954. Recordings by him with compositional notation at all music, australian charts and red hot jazz. All titles below are thought composed by Alexander. (Some sources confuse 'The Risin' Sun' with the traditional title of uncertain origin, 'The House of the Rising Sun'. The latter wasn't recorded until 1933 by country artists, Clarence Ashley and Gwen Foster.)

Texas Alexander   1927

   Range In My Kitchen

Texas Alexander   1928

   Frisco Train Blues

      Cornet: King Oliver   Guitar: Lonnie Johnson

   The Risin' Sun

Texas Alexander   1929

   Double Crossing Blues

      With Little Hat Jones

Texas Alexander   1934

   Frost Texas Tornado Blues


Birth of the Blues: Alger Texas Alexander

Alger Texas Alexander

Source: Red Hot Jazz

Birth of the Blues: DeFord Bailey

DeFord Bailey

Source: DeFord Bailey

Born in 1899 in Tennessee, harmonica player DeFord Bailey was more a country musician than bluesman per se. Yet he something defies inclusion in the country categories of this history as they are, more belonging on this page. Bailey was the first musician to play on the Grand Ole Opry in 1927. The Grand Ole Opry was originally a Nashville radio broadcast (WSM Radio) called 'Barn Dance', first airing in 1925. It's name was changed due to a joke by radio announcer, George Hay, referring to his country music broadcast as a grand opera. ('Barn Dance' followed a classical music show.) To quote, as Hay was introducing Deford Bailey: "For the past hour we have been listening to music largely from Grand Opera. But from now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry." The name stuck, making Bailey its first performer. Recording wasn't the focus of Bailey's career, but his first were also in 1927, those on April 1 in Atlanta, GA: 'Pan American Express' with 'Hesitation Mama', neither issued. American Music places his first session to issue on April 18 in New York City for his composition, 'Pan American Blues' (Brunswick 146, Vocalion 5180). Other of Bailey's compositions were 'Ice Water Blues' and 'Davidson County Blues', those spread along in Nashville on October 2, 1928 (Bluebird B5147).     Recordings followed into the thirties, though DeFord was largely a radio performer, WSM Radio in particular. He quit the music profession altogether in 1941 (though performing on rare occasions) upon being fired by WSM for playing tunes forbidden without contract with ASCAP (the royalties organization). Bailey thereafter made his living renting rooms in his home and shining shoes. Bailey died July 2, 1982. Allmusic presents this list of traditional compositions recorded by Bailey. Per 'Fox Chase' below, its first recorded version is thought to have been by Henry Whitter on August 2, 1927, released November 4.

DeFord Bailey   1927

   Dixie Flyer Blues

  Pan American Blues

DeFord Bailey   1929

   Davidson County Blues

   Ice Water Blues

DeFord Bailey   1967

   Fox Chase

     Composition: Traditional

     Filmed live

   Pan American Blues

     Filmed live



Birth of the Blues: Memphis Jug Band

Memphis Jug Band

Source: Memphis Flyer

The Memphis Jug Band elementally means Will Shade who was its leader for 39 years (1927 - 1963). Its members coming and going over the years, Shade himself was vocalist and played guitar and harmonica, leading the band until his death on September 18, 1966. The Jug Band is thought to have first recorded on February 24, 1927: 'Sun Brimmers Blues' and 'Stingy Woman Blues', 'Memphis Jug Blues' and 'Newport News Blues'. Its original members were Will Weldon (vocals/guitar) Charlie Polk (jug) and Ben Ramey (kazoo). Though Shade ran the group for decades to come it recorded for only several years, albeit seventy some titles. Lord's disco has them down for a title in Memphis as late as 1935: 'Papa's Got Your Water On'. Wikipedia has Shade's Jug Band on various field recordings years later from 1957 to 1964. Titles by the Memphis Jug Band with songwriting credits at australiancharts, redhotjazz and allmusic 1, 2.

Memphis Jug Band  1927

   Bob Lee Junior Blues


     Clayton Shade/Jennie Mae Clayton/Will Shade

   I'll See You in the Spring

   I Packed My Suitcase, Started to the Train

     Composition: Jennie Mae Clayton/Will Shade

   State of Tennessee Blues

     Composition: Jennie Mae Clayton/Will Shade

   Stingy Woman Blues

     Composition: Will Shade/Will Weldon

   Sun Brimmer's Blues

     Composition: Will Shade/Will Weldon

Memphis Jug Band  1928

   Papa Long Blues

     Composition: Vol Stevens

   Stealin' Stealin'

     Composition: Will Shade

   KC Moan

     Composition: Tewee Blackman

   On the Road Again

     Composition: Will Shade

   Peaches in the Springtime

     Composition: Will Shade

   Sugar Pudding

     Composition: J.B. Jones/Will Weldon

Memphis Jug Band  1930

   Cocaine Habit Blues

     Composition: Jennie Mae Clayton

Memphis Jug Band  1934

   Insane Crazy Blues

     Composition: Charlie Burse



Birth of the Blues: Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell

Scrapper Blackwell   Leroy Carr

Source: bdla


Pianist, Leroy Carr, was born in 1905 in Nashville, though raised in Indianapolis. He formed his famous partnership with guitarist, Scrapper Blackwell, in 1928. Their first session was held in Indianapolis on June 19 that year, resulting in his compositions, 'How Long Blues' and 'My Own Lonesome Blues', becoming the best-selling blues plate that year. More of Carr under Scrapper Blackwell in Blues 1. Recordings by Carr with compositional notes at australiancharts and allmusic 1, 2.

Leroy Carr  1928

   How Long How Long Blues

     With Scrapper Blackwell

Leroy Carr  1930

   Papa Wants a Cookie

     With Scrapper Blackwell

     Composed w Scrapper Blackwell

Leroy Carr   1932

   Midnight Hour Blues

      With Scrapper Blackwell

Leroy Carr  1935

   Rocks In My Bed

  When the Sun Goes Down


Born in Villa Rica, Georgia, in 1899, pianist, Thomas Andrew Dorsey (alias Georgia Tom), had a minister for a father and a piano teacher for a mother. He studied music in Chicago before becoming an agent for Paramount Records. Dorsey formed the Wildcats Jazz Band with Ma Rainey in 1924, with which he toured for three years before making his first recordings, 'Chicago Moan Blues'/'It's Tight Like That', in January of 1928 with Tampa Red. ('It's Tight Like That' would sell seven million copies.) More followed with Red and Rainey in September that year. Dorsey's few recordings, however, aren't the reason he's in this history. Rather, it is his composing, beginning with Rainey, then McKinney's Cotton Pickers. It was his performance at the National Baptist Convention in 1930 that would find him becoming known as the "father" of black gospel music. Whether transported to America from Europe or arising out of the South, though such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers made their rounds in the 19th century, (black) gospel didn't become an especially notable genre in and of itself in recording until the thirties due to such as black gospel artists like Arizona Dranes, the barbershop Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet and Dorsey's ignition of black gospel in Chicago that would become a regular movement of note in the annals of music history. Prior to such, gospel had gained its exposure largely through secular blues and folk musicians. Dorsey's involvement remarked the common roots shared by black gospel and the blues in the troubled waters of black experience, as well as their separate interests and styles. That the blues were for juke joints and gospel for churches was made pointedly clear. Other than forming a choir and the Dorsey House of Music publishing company in 1932, he was elected president of the Gospel Choral Union. The next year in '33 he founded National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. Representative of Dorsey's contribution to early black gospel is such as his composition for Mahalia Jackson in 1937, 'Peace In the Valley'. Dorsey is credited with more than 400 compositions, his early recordings and compositions performed by various artists are easy to find on multiple compilations. Dorsey died on January 23, 1993, in Chicago. Of the samples below with Dorsey at piano, he collaborated with Tampa Red in the writing of 'It's Tight Like That' and 'Kunjine Baby'. Among other earlier compositions as Georgia Tom were 'Pat That Bread' and 'My Texas Blues' in 1929, recorded with Big Bill Broonzy. 'I'll Tell It Wherever I Go' below is among his own later gospel compositions. Other gospel compositions by Dorsey.

Georgia Tom Dorsey   1928

   It's Tight Like That

      With Tampa Red

   Leaving This Morning

      With Ma Rainey & Tampa Red

     Composition: Ma Rainey

   Sweet Rough Man

      WWith Ma Rainey & Tampa Red

     Composition: Ma Rainey

Georgia Tom Dorsey   1930

   Kunjine Baby

      With Tampa Red

Thomas A Dorsey   1973

   I'll Tell It Wherever I Go

      Vocal: Sallie Martin


Birth of the Blues: Thomas A Dorsey

Thomas A Dorsey (Georgia Tom)

Source: Black Kudos

Noah Lewis was a jug band musician who played mouth harp. He left Henning, Tennessee, for Memphis as a teenager, there to meet and perform with young Ashley Thompson, three years younger. Lewis was sixteen when he met Gus Cannon,, the three to form a circle often working together for the next twenty years before recording as Cannon's Jug Stompers on January 30, 1928: 'Minglewood Blues'/'Madison Street Rag' (Victor 21267) and 'Big Railroad Blues'/'Springdale Blues' (Victor 21351). (Discography: American Music.) Lewis also recorded for Victor with his Carolina Peanut Boys in 1929-30 (see redhotjazz). That group backed Mrs. Van Zula Carter Hunt (vocals), consisting of Sleepy John Estes (guitar), Yank Rachel (mandolin) and Ham Lewis (jug). Lewis was noted for his ability to play two harmonicas at once, one by mouth, the other by nose. Lewis was smitten by frostbite in 1961 in Tennessee, killing him by gangrene. Recordings by Cannon's Jug Stompers and/or Noah Lewis with songwriting credits at australiancharts 1, 2. Titles below are thought to be composed by Lewis.

Noah Lewis  1928

  Minglewood Blues

     Cannon's Jug Stompers

   Viola Lee Blues

     Cannon's Jug Stompers

Noah Lewis  1929

    Devil In the Woodpile

     Harmonica solo

Noah Lewis  1930

   Like I Want to Be

     Harmonica solo


Birth of the Blues: Noah Lewis

Noah Lewis

L to R: Gus Cannon | Ashley Thomson | Noah Lewis

Source: All About Blues

Born in Arkansas in 1906, pianist Roosevelt Sykes (Willie Kelly aka the Honeydripper) took to the road at age fifteen, playing barrelhouse piano along the Mississippi at sawmills, levee camps, wherever laborers were gathered and a piano could be found. He left St. Louis for New York City in 1929 expressly to make his first recordings. His first issue, '44 Blues', is thought have been that year. Sykes eventually settled in New Orleans in 1954, where he died of heart attack in 1983, living 77 years despite his ever present cigar, missing in the photo to the right which makes him shine like Mr. Clean dressed for Sunday School. He was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1999. Compilations of Sykes with compositional notes at allmusic 1, 2. Titles recorded as the Honeydripper with songwriting credits. Titles recorded during Sykes' latter years with songwriting credits. See also australiancharts 1, 2. All titles below were composed by Sykes except unknown (*) or otherwise noted. More of Sykes in Rock and Roll 1.

Roosevelt Sykes  1929

   44 Blues

   All My Money Gone

   Way I Feel Blues

Roosevelt Sykes  1936

   Driving Wheel Blues

Roosevelt Sykes  1937

   Night Time Is The Right Time

Roosevelt Sykes  1950

   West Helena Blues

Roosevelt Sykes  1953

   Been Through the Mill*

Roosevelt Sykes  1960


   Yes Lawd

     Composed w Ozzie Cadena

Roosevelt Sykes  1973

   Persimmon Pie*

      Album: 'Dirty Mother for You'


Birth of the Blues: Roosevelt Sykes

Roosevelt Sykes

Photo: Doug Fulton

Source: Alchetron


'When You're Smiling, the Whole World Smiles With You' was jazz singer Georgia White's first recording in 1930, performed on May 16 with Jimmy Noone's Apex Club Orchestra. White is thought to have been born in 1903, but for a pianist who recorded well over 100 tracks for Decca very little is known about her. White stayed with Noone's band into early 1931. She also recorded as Georgia Lawson in the thirties. March 13 of !935 witnessed her first tracks for Decca, 'Your Worries Ain't Like Mine' and 'You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now', neither issued. Among issued titles from a session on April 10 were 'Dupree Blues' and 'Dallas Man'. Per above, she would record above 100 titles for Decca in the next six years, But one of numerous highlights arrived in NYC on April 1 of 1938 in the person of guitarist, Lonnie Johnson, they to lay out such as 'Almost Afraid of Love' and 'Crazy Blues'. After her last tracks for Decca White became a club performer with her all-female band. Performing at clubs would see her working with such as Bumble Bee Slim and Big Bill Broonzy, she to eventually end up at the Blue Pub in Chicago in 1959 whence she faded into obscurity. White is thought to have died in 1980. A list of her recordings with compositional credits.

Georgia White   1936

   Get 'Em From The Peanut Man

     Composition: Lil Johsnon

   Honey Dripper Blues

     Composition: Georgia White

   I Just Want To Be Your Stingaree

     Guitar: Les Paul

     Composition: Georgia White

   New Dupree Blues

     Guitar: Les Paul

      Composition: Georgia White

   Tell Me Baby

     Composition: Traditional

   Was I Drunk

     Composition: Charles Farrell/Chick Endor

Georgia White   1937

   Alley Boogie

     Composition: Lucille Bogan/Georgia White

   The Stuff Is Here

     Composition: Sam Hill


Birth of the Blues: Georgia White

Georgia White

Source: warholsoup100


Birth of the Blues: Doctor Clayton

Doctor Clayton

Source: Second Hand Songs


Born Peter Joe Clayton in Georgia in 1898, blues singer, Doctor Clayton, was raised in St. Louis. Wikipedia has him working in a factory, the father of four children, when he began singing. He could also use a piano and ukulele. It's rumored that he's the Jesse Clayton who recorded 'Station House Blues'/'Neckbone Blues' in Chicago on September 9, 1930 (Vocalion 1598). American Music enters it into its discography with unknown guitar and piano. It does sound a lot like Clayton, though no documentation that makes a direct connection is known. This Clayton put down his initial tracks more certainly on July 27, 1935, also in Chicago, as Peter J. Clayton: 'Peter's Blues', 'Yo Yo Jive', et al. Clayton experienced the disappearance of his family in a house fire in 1937. He held several sessions in July and August of 1941 as Peter Cleighton: ''41 Blues'/'Love Is Gone' (OKeh 06375), et al. His debut tracks as Doctor Clayton followed on November 11, 1941: 'Doctor Clayton Blues'/'Gotta Find My Baby' (Bluebird B8901) and 'Watch Out Mama'/'Cheating and Lying Blues' (Bluebird B8938). Clayton was a popular nightclub performer in Chicago for most of his brief career, working alongside such as Robert Lockwood and Sunnyland Slim. He died of tuberculosis in Chicago on January 7, 1947. Titles below were composed by Clayton except as noted. * = unknown.

Jesse Clayton   1930

   Neckbone Blues*

     One and the same Doctor Clayton?

Peter Clayton   1935

   Yo Yo Jive*

Peter Cleighton   1941

   Black Snake Blues

Doctor Clayton   1941

   Cheating and Lying Blues

Doctor Clayton   1942

   Pearl Harbor Blues

Dr. Clayton   1942

   On the Killin' Floor

     Composition: Ernest Lawlar

Dr. Clayton   1946

   Hold That Train Conductor

   Root Doctor Blues



Birth of the Blues: Rosetta Howard

Rosetta Howard

Source: Douglas Green Associates

Rosetta Howard was born in Woodruff, Arkansas, in 1913. She is thought to have begun her career singing along to a jukebox (invented 1927) in a club where she was employed. She was about 18 (1932) when she began working with jazz guitarist Jimmie Noone (later clarinet) in Chicago. Five years later on May 31, 1937, Howard made her first recording in Chicago with the Harlem Hamfats: 'Empty Bed Blues'. (The Harlem Hamfats were a studio rather than performing group originally configured by record producer, Mayo Williams, its personnel continuously changing as recordings required.) Howard's recording career would last only ten years. Among her last recordings in 1947 were three put down for Columbia on June 10 with Willie Dixon's Big Three Trio consisting of Leonard Caston (piano), Bernardo Dennis (guitar) and Charles Saunders (drums): 'When I Been Drinking', 'Help Me Baby' and 'I Keep on Worrying'. September 3 saw Howard with Dixon's Big Three recording such as 'Where Shall I Go' with Alphonse Walker on drums. Howard's final recordings are thought to have been on December 20 of '47 with Big Bill Broonzy in the group (ostensibly the Harlem Hamfats): 'Sweep Your Blues Away', 'It Was You', 'You made Me Love You' and 'Plow Hand Blues'. Upon retirement encouraged by inability to sell records Howard remained in Chicago, not to sing again but in church, she a Baptist. She died a quarter century or so later on October 18, 1974, in Chicago. Recordings by Howard with songwriting credits known at australiancharts.

Rosetta Howard   1937

   Rosetta Blues

     Composition: Rosetta Howard

Rosetta Howard   1938

   The Candy Man

     Composition: Herb Morand

Rosetta Howard   1939

   He´s Mine All Mine

      Clarinet: Barney Bigard   Trumpet: Henry Red Allen

Rosetta Howard   1947

   When I Been Drinkin'

     Composition: Big Bill Broonzy

   Ebony Rhapsody

     Composition: Johnston/Sam Coslow

   You Made Me Love You

Rosetta Howard   1948

   I Keep On Worryin'



Born in 1914 in Jackson, Tennessee, harp player Sonny Boy Williamson I (John Lee Curtis Williamson) also played guitar. There is no relation between Sonny Boy Williamson I and Sonny Boy Williamson II. Williamson I made his way to Chicago in 1934. Williamson made his debut recordings on May 5, 1937, at the Leland Hotel in Aurora, Illinois, that backing Robert Lee McCoy (Robert Nighthawk) on 'Prowling Night-Hawk' (Bluebird B6995) with Big Joe Williams. AM follows that on the same date with Williamson's first name session backed by McCoy and Williams on 'Skinny Woman'/'Got the Bottle Up and Gone' (Bluebird 7012). AM then has McCoy and Williamson backing Williams' 'I Know You Gonna Miss Me'/'Brother James' (Bluebird B7022). That trio also recorded on May 5: Williams' 'Rootin' Ground Hog'/'I Won't Be in Hard Luck No More' (Bluebird B7065), Williamson's 'Blue Bird Blues'/'Jackson Blues' (Bluebird 7098), and McCoy's 'Sweet Pepper Mama' (Bluebird B7090) and 'Tough Luck' (Bluebird B7115). Williamson recorded numerously with both McCoy and Williams over the years. He also recorded widely in either supporting or leading capacities with such as Big Bill Broonzy, Yank Rachell, Washboard Sam, Elijah Jones, Henry Townsend, Rambling Bob, Speckled Red (Rufus George Perryman) and Tampa Red. His last known recordings were in Aurora, Illinois, on December 18, 1947, in support of Williams' 'Banta Rooster Blues', 'House Lady Blues', 'King Biscuit Stomp', 'Don't You Leave Me Here', 'P Vine Blues' and 'I'm a Highway Man'. Those were issued per Columbia 30119, Columbia 38190, Columbia 30129, Columbia 30191. Williamson's career sliced short the next year upon being murdered (June 1, 1948) during a robbery as he was walking home from a performance at the Plantation Club, he only 34 years of age. Among songs written by Williamson I were 'I Have Got to Go' and 'My Black Name Blues'. Other compositions at discogs. Titles below were written by Williamson except as noted.

Sonny Boy Williamson I   1937

   Good Morning Little School Girl

     With Robert Lee McCoy & Big Joe Williams

   Prowling Night-Hawk

      With Robert Lee McCoy & Big Joe Williams

     Composition: Robert Lee McCoy (Robert Nighthawk)

   Skinny Woman

      With Robert Lee McCoy & Big Joe Williams

Sonny Boy Williamson I   1941

   Good Gal Blues

      With Big Bill Broonzy & Walter Davis

Sonny Boy Williamson I   1945

   Wild Cow Moan

     Vocal: Big Joe Williams

     Bass: Ransom Knowling

     Drums: Judge Riley

     Composition: Big Joe Williams


Birth of the Blues: Sonny Boy Williamson I

Sonny Boy Williamson I

Source: Bio


With Sonny Boy Williamson I we pause this history of early blues music. We will be making additions as such occur.



Early Blues 1: Guitar

Early Blues 2: Vocal - Other Instruments

Modern Blues 1: Guitar

Modern Blues 2: Vocal - Other Instruments

Modern Blues 3: Black Gospel Appendix


Medieval - Renaissance


Galant - Classical

Romantic: Composers born 1770 to 1840

Romantic - Impressionist

Expressionist - Modern

Modern: Composers born 1900 to 1950




Country Western


Early Jazz 1: Ragtime - Bands - Horn

Early Jazz 2: Ragtime - Other Instrumentation

Early Jazz 3: Ragtime - Song - Hollywood

Swing Era 1: Big Bands

Swing Era 2: Song

Modern 1: Saxophone

Modern 2: Trumpet - Other Horn

Modern 3: Piano

Modern 4: Guitar - Other String

Modern 5: Percussion - Other Orchestration

Modern 6: Song

Modern 7: Latin Jazz - Latin Recording

Modern 8: United States 1960 - 1970

Modern 9: International 1960 - 1970

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Early - Boogie Woogie - R&B - Soul - Disco

Doo Wop

The Big Bang - Fifties American Rock

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British Invasion

Total War - Sixties American Rock

Other Musical Genres - Popular Music Appendix

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Classical - Baroque to Classical

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The Blues

Bluegrass - Folk

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