"Upon the outbreak of World War I in 1914, America's immigration from Europe slackened while heavy industry was booming. African Americans saw the opportunity for work at wages much higher than they were used to and packed up their belongings and moved. This period witnessed the massive migration of Southern blacks to Northern industrial cities. From the eastern part of the South they traveled to New York and Philadelphia; from the central Deep South they rode the train lines to Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. Between 1910 and 1920, 60,000 black Americans migrated from the South to the city of Chicago alone.
"But in cities like Chicago, where newly arrived Southern blacks wanted down-home blues and jazz, entertainers like Alberta Hunter who sang a broad repertoire of variety entertainment found that blues numbers went over best. Singing in the urban atmosphere of the clubs and cabarets the Northern blues women adopted a more sophisticated "dressed up" blues style, insinuating rather than belting out their songs in Southern tent-show fashion.
"The ability of the classic blues women to bring songs, music and images from black life to the public stage and to put them on records introduced black culture to the broader culture on a comparatively massive scale for the first time.Their successful recording careers brought a permanence to forms and styles of blues songs that previously had been improvised and ephemeral. Their popularity in the segregated clubs of the North encouraged the spread of jazz and the sound of the great jazz musicians who accompanied them, and their influence on white blues and jazz vocalists is irrefutable."
The blues women rarely accompanied themselves. Instead of singing to a lone guitar or banjo as the folk singers did, the women were accompanied by jazz bands that now were becoming popular, music hall professionals like themselves who were veterans of the theatrical circuit.
The support provided by early jazzmen on most of these performances reaffirms the close sympathetic relationship that existed between jazz and blues at this period and which provided most of the recordings of the time with much of their appeal and charm. Even in the late '20s future name jazz players were turning up in backing groups -- Henry Red Allen, J. C. Higginbotham, Louis Russell, Rex Stewart, Johnny Dodds and the great Fats Waller are all listed as accompanists on these mainly original Okeh recordings.
Backing personnel are listed under each title and can be seen by bringing the back cover image up to full screen.
01) Goin' Crazy With The Blues
02) What Have You Done
01) Moaning The Blues
02) Blood Hound Blues
SWEET PEAS [Addie Spivey]
01) I Got A Man In The 'Bama Mines
02) Cold In Hand
01) My Man O' War
02) Electrician Blues
02) Beale Street Blues
01) Somebody's Been Lovin' My Baby
02) Hard Hearted Papa
01) You Gonna Need My Help
02) I'm A Mighty Tight Woman
01) Dead Drunk Blues
02) Second-Handed Blues