Clara Smith

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Clara Smith
Born c. 1894
Spartanburg County, South Carolina, United States
Died February 2, 1935
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Genres Classic female blues
Occupations Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1910s-1935
Labels Columbia

Clara Smith (c. 1894 – February 2, 1935)[1] was an African America classic female blues singer. She was billed as the "Queen of the Moaners",[1] even though she had a lighter and sweeter voice than many of her contemporaries. She was not related to vocalists Bessie Smith or Mamie Smith.


Smith was born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. In her youth she worked on African American theater circuits and tent shows and in vaudeville. By the late 1910s she was appearing as a headliner at the Lyric Theater in New Orleans, Louisiana and on the T.O.B.A. circuit.

In 1923 she settled in New York, appearing at cabarets and speakeasies there; that same year she made the first of her commercially successful series of gramophone recordings for Columbia Records, for which she recorded 122 songs, working with many other musicians like Fletcher Henderson and Louis Armstrong.[2] In 1925 she duetted with Bessie Smith on record on two songs, "My Man Blues", and "Far Away Blues" (Columbia 14098-D), recorded on 1 September 1925.

In 1933 she moved to Detroit, Michigan, and worked at theaters in revues there until her hospitalization in early 1935 for heart disease, of which she died.[3]

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