African Americans left hot southern fields and found they did not have much money or anyone to love. So they would sing. That was the birth of the Blues. A forceful vocal delivery and command of the genre earned Bessie Smith the title “Empress of the Blues.” Robert Johnson was a delta blues guitarist considered by some to the Grandfather of Rock and Roll. But if you listen to his songs, they were definitely the blues. Howling Wolf was really good at telling everyone about the blues. Our people seemed to have a song of woe in their souls because the person they love loves someone else. But somehow a person could make it as long as they could sing about it. Muddy Waters had his own way of trying to attract his woman. At about this time Black music was felt deep down in the souls of everyone. So much so that white folks would go to the African American parts of town and listen to soulful music sung by someone like Big Mama Thornton and make the same song a hit on the pop side of the charts.
Bessie Smith earned the title of “Empress of the Blues” by virtue of her forceful vocal delivery and command of the genre. Her singing displayed a soulfully phrased, boldly delivered and nearly definitive grasp of the blues. In addition, she was an all-around entertainer who danced, acted and performed comedy routines with her touring company. She was the highest-paid black performer of her day and arguably reached a level of success greater than that of any African-American entertainer before her.
Robert Johnson was an American blues musician, among the most famous of Delta blues musicians. His landmark recordings display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to legend.
Howlin' Wolf, born Chester Arthur Burnett, was an influential American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues. Many songs popularized by Burnett—such as "Smokestack Lightnin'," "Back Door Man" and "Spoonful"—have become standards of blues and blues rock.
Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield, is best known as a guitar playing blues man and the Father of the Chicago Blues. Rolling Stone magazine has Waters listed as one of the Greatest Artists of All Time. And legendary British rock band, The Rolling Stones, were so influenced by Muddy Waters that they named their band after his song, “Rolling Stone.”
Big Mama Thornton, born Willie Mae Thornton, was known as a great female blues singer who started her career in the 1950s. She was a direct descendant of such classic blues singers as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Her biggest hit, "Hound Dog," climbed to number one on the R&B charts giving Thornton national recognition.