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 extensive concerns in background, 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 good fortune of lady blues artists like Bessie Smith are hooked up to the fast migration and industrialization within the past due 19th and early 20th centuries, Scott focuses her research on Chattanooga, Tennessee, the big business and transportation middle the place Smith used to be born. This research explores how the growth of the Southern railroads and the advance of iron foundries, metal turbines, and sawmills created huge 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 song of black Chattanooga through the first decade of the 20 th century, and culminates through delving into Smith's early years at the vaudeville circuit.
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Additional resources for Blues Empress in Black Chattanooga: Bessie Smith and the Emerging Urban South
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. 113 New businesses and industries were another vital element of the post– Civil War black community. 115 Men and women continued in many of the same occupations as in the antebellum era, yet the limits on what was a designated “colored” job lessened in the postbellum period.
The Civil War had brought hundreds of African Americans to Hamilton County. The new industries that grew around Civil War fortifications encouraged many of these newcomers to remain and more freedpersons to join them. 99 The influx of people helped strengthen black community institutions, which were created through the communitydevelopment efforts in the contraband settlement. ”100 The array of religious, educational, and business institutions that freedpersons developed on the site of the contraband settlement and into Chattanooga’s downtown region are a testament to Lamon’s argument.
Chattanooga was known for its May festival parade, and blacks were very involved, especially with music. 124 Leisure activities began to be separated by a slowly growing internal class division in the black community. Although church and citywide events drew all Chattanooga blacks together, the new group of businessmen often attended lodge events, while day laborers often additionally spent their leisure time in local saloons and eating houses. By 1879, one of the few saloons that blacks patronized was the black-owned John Lovell’s saloon on Carter Street.
Blues Empress in Black Chattanooga: Bessie Smith and the Emerging Urban South by Michelle R. Scott