Sasha | at sea...sailing somewhere | 02/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A perfect introduction to now-forgotten period of music,when women were the first blues stars,this CD is also great company for a book "Black Pearls:Blues Queens of the 1920's" by Daphne Duvall Harrison.While in the book we could find historical and economical background that shaped women like Bessie Smith,Ma Rainey and Ida Cox,on this CD we can hear their voices - through the limitations of primitive recording equipment,spirit of Mamie Smith explodes in our ears from 1920.when her hit "Crazy Blues" started avalanche of blues recordings and opened a door for a new market,as then unknown teritory of "race music" whose first pioneers were women.It's interesting to compare this women to their white sisters from the same era (check "Flappers,Vamps And Sweet Young Things") - while white singers lived and performed in far better circumstances,their songs and type of singing sounds comical today as opposite to these wonderful black singers whose music left beautiful afterglow that still shines,a century later.Of course,at that time they did not know that today we will considered them artists,they were "loose women" condemned by church,often on the road,living hard life and paying their fame with a price of not having family.Popularity of this first blues singers lasted only 10 years and then they were washed away by depression which succesfully destroyed recording bussines for some time,but songs survived until present day - check wonderful Ma Rainey (whose importance as "the mother of the blues" is introduced here by 3 songs!) and Bessie Smith;compare them to other singers and hear for yourself why these two women are called "Mother" and "Empress",why their music overshadowed other contemporaries...Young Louis Armstrong could also be heard here in the full glory of his New Orleans years.Compilation ends with touching example of late Billie Holiday in the autumn of her life - althought swing era singer,Billie actually grew up listening to these women and would often quotte their old verses in her blues songs.Lyrics of her "Stormy Monday" originally could be heard on Clara Smith (Bessie's biggest compentition) 1923."I Never Miss The Sunshine (I'm So Used To The Rain")."