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‘The Queen of the Blues’ Mamie Smith has the distinction of being the first African-American to record a vocal blues.
Recorded on August 10 1920, Crazy Blues established the now classic lyrical blues theme of tainted love ("The man I love/He don't treat me right/He makes me feel so blue?I don't know what to do’). Mamie put in an incredible, lung-shredding performance on Crazy Blues which became a million seller in less than a year.
Record companies couldn’t ignore sales figures like that. The race was on to find other great female artists of which, it turned out, there was little shortage. The ‘classic female blues’ era had begun…