Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bessie Smith weaves her sorcery

I spent last night gazing at the fog enveloping the street lights, sipping wine and listening to the magnificent BESSIE SMITH.
Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 30s, but more than that, she was an icon with a lasting legacy.
Christopher John Farley wrote:
"Bessie Smith gave women a voice -- a voice that was big and assertive and unafraid to explore any issue, from the bedroom to the barroom, from the poorhouse to the jailhouse."
Covering a 1926 Smith concert for Vanity Fair, Carl Van Vechten tried to describe the powerful sway the legendary singer held over her audience:
"The spell once more was weaving its subtle sorcery, the perversely complicated spell of African voodoo, the fragrance of china-berry blossoms, the glimmer of the silver fleece of the cotton field under the full moon, the spell of sorrow: misery, poverty and the horror of jail."
I sat captivated by that very spell last night.
I think I'm still caught in it this morning, to be honest.


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