Mamie Smith’s Crazy Blues


Looking back at the history of Blues & Jazz music, it has to be brought up that the first Blues recording took place in 1920. The artists were Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds and they recorded this song for Okeh Records. The song was called “The Crazy Blues” and it was recorded on a gramophone record. Because of it sales of over 75,000 copies, it was then realized by music officials that Blues music could be recorded and sold for profit and the rest is history.

I find it interesting talking about this now because about 5 months ago, I looked this up on my own free will. Last year, it was announced that Queen Latifah would play the role of Bessie Smith nicknamed, The Empress of Blues, because of her early contributions to the genre. The movie came on HBO and I would say I enjoyed it. But before the movie came out, the trailer had prompted me to do further research on Bessie Smith and learn more about her before seeing the movie. Upon doing research on Bessie Smith, I discovered that Mamie Smith and her recording of The Crazy Blues with her Jazz Hounds was known as the first official Blues recording. Without a doubt and being curious, I took a listen to it and it brought me a sense of nostalgia I never knew and I really enjoyed it. The sound was a little muffled but again this was recorded in 1920 before microphones were invented so I could not complain. The instrumental was great and had that old time feeling and Mamie Smith’s voice blew me away. In the sense that her voice reminded me of so many singers that came after her like Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin. I felt like I had traveled back in time and I envisioned the whole set up of Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds recording this song.  This was recorded over 95 years ago, but it has left an indelible print on Blues & Jazz music, the music industry and me.