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“The Original” Bessie Brown: “Song From a Cotton Field” and “St. Louis Blues”

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–whose recording career only lasted from 1925 to 1928–at Red Hot Jazz, which is a great site dedicated to jazz before 1930.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=z6QoclBHwnU

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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