Esther Bigeou

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Esther Bigeou (c. 1895 – c. 1936) was an American vaudeville and blues singer. Billed as "The Girl with the Million Dollar Smile", she was one of the classic female blues singers popular in the 1920s.

She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Her extended family featured several musicians; drummer Paul Barbarin was her cousin.[1] In 1913 she began touring in vaudeville with performer and playwright Irvin C. Miller; they later married.[2] In 1917 Esther Bigeou appeared as a singer, dancer, and recitalist in the Broadway Rastus Revue, written by Miller, at the Standard Theater in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Lafayette Theater in New York City, and the Orpheum Theater in Baltimore, Maryland.[1] She recorded for the OKeh label in 1921 and 1923, and toured the TOBA vaudeville circuit with the Billy King Company in 1923.[1] From 1923 to 1925 and 1927 to 1930, she toured as a single act throughout the American South, Midwest, and Northeast.[1]

Blues writer Chris Smith says that Esther Bigeou was "a singer at the pop end of African-American entertainment", and that she "seems to have retired, aged only 35, to settle in New Orleans, where reports indicate that she died circa 1936".[3]

All of Esther Bigeou's recordings were reissued in 1996 by Document Records on the CD, Esther Bigeou: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order (1921–1923) (DODC-5489).


  1. ^ a b c d Harris, Sheldon (1994). Blues Who's Who (Revised Ed.). New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80155-8. p. 48
  2. ^ Cary D. Wintz, Paul Finkelman (eds.), Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance: K-Y, Taylor & Francis, 2004, p.793
  3. ^ Esther Bigeou: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order (1921–1923). [CD booklet] Document Records DODC-5489

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