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Born into poverty in Chattanooga, TN, Bessie Smith began singing for money on street corners and eventually rose to become the largest-selling recording artist of her day.So mesmerizing was her vocal style - reinforced by her underrated acting and comedic skills - that near-riots frequently erupted when she appeared.But in the context of soundie content of the time, one of the most popular '' of soundies content was fake hillbilly music by the likes of the Korn Kobblers and scores of others.So rather than thinking 'lets have some lazy rural darkies with watermelons' I'm sure the point was to have black entertainers horn in on the generally popular honky-hillbillie imagery in many a soundie.She was a large, pretty woman and she dominated the stage. S.] South as I did, you would recognize a similarity between what she was doing and what those preachers and evangelists from there did, and how they moved people.She could bring about mass hypnotism." With her earnings, Smith was able to purchase a custom-designed railroad car for herself and her troupe in 1925.Paghat continues, "Slowy one and then the other two and then additional dancers from off screen all get up to dance to "Caravan." It pretty much turns into a 'dancie' instead of a soundie, and if you overlook the stereotyping costuming, this is pretty fine performing, including some breakdance moves from the guy who wins a trophy, though he has to stop eatin' dat watermelon to receive it.
In 1948 they released two songs for RCA -- "I'm Sorry I Didn't Say I'm Sorry" and What Did He Say, written by Cy Coben.This notoriety led to opportunities to appear on stage and in radio.During the Second World War the group did extensive touring for the USO and provided entertainment for American troops overseas.20 documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black History Collection were showcased.More items from the Collection are exhibited behind the walls.