Re: [RedHotJazz] Bessie Smith "Comedienne"
- 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.
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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