I don’t believe that Bessie Brown — who was billed as “The Original” Bessie Brown — was a major star. In a way, that makes the fact that we are listening to her at the end of 2012 — more than 80 years after she had a brief moments of fame — all the more amazing. The authenticity of Song from a Cotton Field, which is above — whether it was really a tenant farmer or sharecropper song — is an interesting question. The Internet Archive credits Brown as the composer, but it is possible that the core song was much older.
Of course, everything sounds a thousand years old. It is obvious, however, that the band backing her on that song and on Basin Street Blues, which is below, was hot.
Here is the note on Bessie Brown from the YouTube video.
Bessie Brown (Cleveland, Ohio 1895 – 1955), also known as “The Original” Bessie Brown, was a blues and classic jazz singer. She sometimes recorded under the pseudonyms of Sadie Green and Caroline Lee and should not be confused with her namesake, the Bessie Brown who recorded blues duets with George W. Williams. She was active as a recording artist from 1925 to 1928. She left showbusiness in 1932 and had three children before dying of a heart attack in 1955.
More on Brown can be found at The Syncopated Times’ archive from the Red Hot Jazz Archive.