Bessie Smith is called the "Empress of the Blues". She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ma Rainey, another great blues singer, helped her. Her voice was so strong, she didn't need a microphone. Her songs were about the sadness and joy of many people. She made her first record in 1923. She made many recordings after that. Many people believed Bessie was one of the greatest Blues singer who ever lived. Bessie Smith was born into extreme poverty. She left home as a teenager to tour with a ministrel show. She was almost unknown to white audiences until shortly before her death. Bessie died in a automobile accident in Mississippi in 1937.