Mamie Smith

Apeda Studio, [Mamie Smith], 1920-24 (1500.1990)

Apeda Studio, [Mamie Smith], 1920-24 (1500.1990) (verso)

Chicago Defender, November 20, 1920, p.3

“Crazy Blues,” Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds, by Perry Bradford, Addington Major, trumpet; Ward “Dope” Andrews, trombone; Ernest “Sticky” Elliott, clarinet; Leroy Parker, violin; Willie “The Lion” Smith, piano, (OKeh-4169) August 10, 1920, from

Chicago Defender, December 12, 1920, p.5

Mamie Smith & Company will be seen at the Avenue Theater in the near future, according to an arrangement which has been made by Manager Weinberg. The engagement will be an eight-day one, starting Sunday matinee, Feb 27. Miss Smith is proving to be the greatest drawing card in the show business, She drew close to $10,000 during a week’s engagement at Richmond, Va. The entertainment is a novel one, five class acts and her own Jazz Hounds of record fame being on the program. Chicago Defender, February 12, 1921, p.5

Chicago Defender, February 19, 1921, p.5 (photo by Apeda Studio)

The announcement of the forthcoming appearance here of Mamie Smith, the supreme phonograph star, and her original Jazz Hounds, with extra additional features, caries with it the assurance that amusement and music lovers of this city will hear the greatest jazz attraction that has even been sent on tour. The engagement here of this celebrated star will mark one of the few stops on a transcontinental tour which has been booked by the Standard Amusement Co., of New York. During her comparatively short career as a star, Miss Smith has done more than any other singer in America to popularize the genuine jazz and blues songs of the day. In her hands a song like “Crazy Blues” and “Mem’res of You, Mammy” becomes a living, potent thing, charged with a pulsing and individual rhythm which has never before been equaled by any singer. After her first sensational success, Miss Smith was asked the secret of her perfect mastery of the “blues” song. “The typical blues song,” said Mamie, “comes from the very heart and to sing it well you have to feel it. It is a peculiar and individual type of music which goes back for generations. In my opinion it is the foundation of real American folk music, much more than the Indian or plantation melodies for real ‘blues’ music has a fascination about it which gets into the blood and is certainly the most popular form of syncopation today, not only in America but, also, I am informed, in London and Paris.” Mamie Smith has been the rage in the east ever since the release of her first phonograph record. Chicago Defender, February 26, 1921, p.4

Chicago Defender, December 4, 1920, p.4 and p.5

The biggest advertised star of the record world appeared in Chicago at the Avenue theater last Sunday night. It was Mamie Smith [1883–1946]. The Avenue, a playhouse devoted to drama and musical comedies, turned its entire program to Mamie. Miss Smith fulfilled one of P.T. Barnum’s sayings, “Give the public what they want and you’ll sell out,” and that’s what she did.
Miss Smith made good with her Sunday night audience beyond a reasonable doubt. Under the most adverse circumstances she made a complete success, equal to any star that has appeared in the city. First, a good vaudeville bill, badly assorted: too many male acts, too much jazz, and a poor stage setting that showed little effort on the part of the stage manager in the attempt to give the star the proper surrounding.
Second, the public misjudged her style of entertaining from her records. One would imagine from the records that she was a of a rough, coarse shouter. To the contrary, she was a splendid reproduction of May Irwin, who made this class of amusement what it is today and what it will remain. One of Miss Smith’s features was that she rendered her numbers clean and void of all foreign dancing, “slapping-the-singer” acts, and added to her personality a good lesson in stage dressing. Her three gowns made the audience gasp.
Advanced criticism of this artist was of little value to Chicago theatergoers. While this is an incubator of all ragtime, jazz stepping and other arts along this line, Chicagoans ignored advance criticisms and went to see for themselves. The advertising and opinions that preceded Miss Smith made it hard for her to make a debut here. Miss Smith’s case on the stage is different from the story of Theda Bara. Theda stormed the world as a vamp. This in pictures alone. In person on the stage she was a failure. Mamie Smith is a sensation in records and came back and made good on the stage. Her first two numbers just “got by.” Her last number, the “Crazy Blues,” justly called the King of all Blues, hit the audience in Baby Ruth order and took a real curtain call and would have done honor to any artist in the business. Miss Smith is one of the overnight successes, and made good and will enjoy packed houses wherever she appears. Chicago Defender, March 5, 1921, p.5

Chicago Defender, March 21, 1921, p.5

This entry was posted in Fans in a Flashbulb and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s