26 May 1883, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, d. 30 October 1946, New York City, New York, USA. Despite beginning her showbusiness career as a dancer, before the outbreak of World War I, Smith was established as a singer. Although she was essentially a vaudeville singer, in 1920 she recorded Crazy Blues, thus becoming the first black singer to record the blues as a soloist. The enormous success of this and her subsequent recordings established her reputation and thereafter she was always in great demand. Her accompanying musicians, on record and on tour, included Willie The Lion Smith, Joe Smith, Johnny Dunn, Bubber Miley and Coleman Hawkins. She lived extravagantly, squandering the enormous amount of money she earned, and when she died in 1946 after a long illness, she was bankrupt.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.