Clara Smith

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Clara Smith
Born c. 1894
Spartanburg County, South Carolina, United States
Died February 2, 1935(1935-02-02) (aged 40–41)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Genres Classic female blues
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1910s–1935
Labels Columbia

Clara Smith (c. 1894 – February 2, 1935)[1] was an American 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 the singers Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith.


Smith was born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. In 1910 she began working on African-American theater circuits and in tent shows and vaudeville. By the late 1918[2] she was appearing as a headliner at the Lyric Theater in New Orleans, Louisiana and on the Theater Owners Bookers Association 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,[3] for which she recorded 122 songs, working with many other musicians such as Fletcher Henderson and Louis Armstrong,[4] and Don Redman.[5] She recorded two duets with Bessie Smith, "My Man Blues" and "Far Away Blues" (Columbia 14098-D), on September 1, 1925. She recorded Tom Delaney's "Troublesome Blues" in 1927.[6]

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.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Clara Smith: Artist Biography". Retrieved 2014-09-04. 
  2. ^ Kernfield, Barry (1988). New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Vol. 3. Macmillan. p. 608. 
  3. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 12. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  4. ^ Abrams, Steven; Settlemier, Tyrone. The Online Discographical Project: Columbia A3500–A4001 (1921–1923) Numerical Listing. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  5. ^ Southern, Eileen (1982). Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians. Greenwood Press. 
  6. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "Tom Delaney: Artist Biography". Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  7. ^ Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club: The 1950s and Earlier". Retrieved 2014-09-04. 

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