Two famous Blues musicians are B. B. King and Bessie Smith.
B. B. King's real name was Riley B. King. His nickname was Blues boy. Eventually he cut it short to B. B. He was born of sharecroppers in Mississippi and hitchhiked his way to Memphis. King began his musical career playing on the streets for pennies and dimes until he finally began working for a local radio station. In his lifetime, he recorded 50 albums. Even into his 80's, he performed over 200 shows a year. (That's more days than a school year!)
Critical Listening: In the two video clips, listen for blue notes. A blue note is a note that falls in between two notes on the piano. Often it sounds like a slide in pitch up or down. Watch when B. B. King shakes his arm on the guitar's neck. Also listen to Bessie Smith slides her voice up and down on the words she sings. These notes that slide up and down are blue notes.
One of the crowd's favorite from B. B. King, "Blues Boy's Tune"
A famous singer to grace the Blues genre was Bessie Smith. She was known as the "Empress of the Blues." She lost a great deal of her family at a young age. As a baby, she lost her father and by the age of nine, had lost her mother and brother. Her sister raised and they would perform songs to make a small living. Bessie Smith had a wide depth of sadness from losing a great deal of her family. She died tragically from a car accident. She has been honored in the Grammy Hall of Fame for her musical influence on later artists.
Here is Bessie Smith singing a classic called, "I Need A Little sugar In My Bowl."
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