Trixie's Blues

Trixie Smith is one of those "singing Smiths" (Bessie, Clara and Mamie - none related) who graced the stage during the Classic Blues period (1920's). This was such a rich time in American history amd these women contributed to the hightenedcultural awareness that permeated the country.

Trixie was born in Atlanta, GA in 1895. She was exposed to music at an early age. Unlike many of her singing sisters, she attended college at Selma Univeristy in Selma, AL.

As a young woman, she moved to New York City and began to perform at the Lincoln Theater and worked the New Standard theater in Philadelphia, PA. In 1916, she began performing on the T.O.B.A. circuit as a featured singer (this is the same circuit covered by "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, Clara Smith and so many other African-American performers during that time period. LOL, I guess this is what my family referred to -and still does - as the '"Chitlin' Circuit"). From 1918 to the 1920's Trixie worked with the popular comedy team of Edwards and Edwards (Butterbeans & Susie). With the Edwards and Mabel Whitman, Trixie toured theatres around the country.

The 1920's were an extremely prolific time for Ms. Smith. In 1921, she recorded on the Black Swan label in New York City. 1922; toured in 7-11 revue, 1923; recorded with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and the Down Home Syncopators on the Paramount label. She continued to record throughout the 1920's.

Ms. Smith was also an accomplished actress and stage performer. She appeared in MOONLIGHT FOLLIES REVUE (1927); NEW YORK REVUE (1928); HIGH LIGHTS OF HARLEM REVUE (1928); she had a non-singing role in the show LILY WHITE (1928) and in 1931 appeared with Mae West in the show THE CONSTANT SINNER and in the same year appeared in the film THE BLACK KING.

Ms. Smith worked in music and the theatre throughout the 1930's even recording for the Decca label in 1938 to '39. As the 1940's approached, Trixie began to work mostly outside of music and only made rare appearances at charity events. After a short illness, she died September 21, 1943 in New York City.

Additional info (compiled by Alan Balfour)

Keith Briggs, Trixie Smith: Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order. Vols 1 & 2 (Document DOCD 5332-5333, 1995 (liner notes)

Sheldon Harris, Blues Who¹s Who. Arlington House, 1979 pp 474-475

Daphne Duval Harrison, "Trixie Smith", in Black Pearls, pp 244-247. Rutgers University Press, 1987

Barry Kernfeld (ed), The New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz, Macmillan Press 1988 p 475

Derrick Stewart-Baxter, Ma Rainey And The Classic Blues Singers, Studio Vista, 1970 pp 81-82

Lea Gilmore
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Trixie Smith

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