Bessie Smith, musician
Apr. 15, 1894-Sept. 26, 1937
The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World by Julius Lester, illustrated by Lisa Cohen (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2001)
Smith hit the road as a singer at the age of 17. She was known for her big voice. Her first record was called Downhearted Blues.
Read more about Smith on the PBS site about Ken Burns' film, Jazz.