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Re: [RedHotJazz] Bessie Smith "Comedienne"

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  • vintagetenor
    Hi Rob, Record companies of the 1920s and earlier often described popular music vocalists as comedian (male) or comedienne (female). I guess blues singers
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 18, 2006
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      Hi Rob,

      Record companies of the 1920s and earlier often described popular music vocalists as comedian (male) or comedienne (female). I guess blues singers like Bessie were just lumped into this general catagory as they weren't singing music of a more highbrow nature.

      I think the terms reflected a lightheartedness that characterized Tin Pan Alley (on one hand) as compared to the more "respectable" singing (on the other).

      Opera singers, for example, were never classified as comedienne.

      Mike Amato


      Rob <robert.gallagher@...> wrote:
      Does anyone know the background to Bessie Smith (and Clara Smith, among
      others) being listed as a "comedienne" on record labels and in
      catalogs? The 1925 Columbia Records catalog lists Bessie that way. No
      indication that she is a singer, not even a "race" singer. Not sure I
      understand how this helped identify her or sell records since comedy
      was not what she was about (except very tangentially in some of the
      lyrics). Maybe a holdover from vaudeville billing/tent shows?





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