You Ain’t Nothin’

There’s a song almost everyone, young or old has at least heard once in their lives. Its Hound Dog. Hound Dog, with its catchy tune, was a twelve-bar blues song. It was recorded by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton on August 13, 1952 in Los Angeles. Released by Peacock Records, it became Big Mama’s only hit record, spending seven weeks at number one on the R&B charts.  It became known as one of the songs that shaped Rock & Roll. However, her version isn’t what many people relate the song to. In July of 1956 Elvis Presley’s version was released. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love Elvis?! He was the king of rock ‘n’roll. If somebody asked me my top 5 Elvis songs, Hound Dog would be one of the first ones to go on my list. I’m not the only one that prefers Elvis’ version over Big Mama’s; as it sold over 10 million copies globally. When I think of Hound Dog, i think pure rock ‘n’ roll. I was surprised to read that this song can be classified pop, country, and R&B.  Both versions have a purpose. Big Mamas highlight her voice and the true meaning of the song (about a women exposing her man). Elvis’s is more focused on transforming the song and music industry with powerful instruments combined with an upbeat tempo.  Regardless of which version people see as better, Hound Dog is a staple in American music and will always be a song that everyone knows.

The Empress of the Blues

Before reading The Empress of the Blues, I have never head of Bessie Smith, however after reading the interviews about her, i realized of how much of an amazing woman she was.  Her sassy, strong, and sensual persona has led to influence women later on in the music business, such as Janis Joplin. What I appreciated most about Bessie is that she used her voice as her greatest asset. She didn’t look like the ideal “star” , but when she sang, no one cared what she looked like. Blues was her life and you could tell in her performances. The fact that you could hear a pin drop in the room when she sang, means something. Her being a woman of color and being raised in churches, she brought with her the passion and soul from the south to her blues performances. In that time period, it was such a big deal for an African American singer to have such a liking. Unfortunately she fell into some trouble during her life, as many singers to this day still deal with. She faced alcoholism and management that were money hungry. What i like about Bessie is though, she didn’t see singing Blue as a job. She say it as a part of her life and was very humble about herself.   Unfortunately, one day she was in a car accident and suffered damage to her arm; having to go to the hospital for emergency care. The hospital was racist though and would not take care of her, and by the time she found a hospital that would, she had lost too much blood to survive. Its a sad tale because she was so influential in her blues singing, and could have gone even further in her career if she was given the opportunity to do so.

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