A Bad Woman Feeling Good: Blues and the Women Who Sing Them

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W. W. Norton & Company, Feb 17, 2005 - Music - 336 pages
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The women who broke the rules, creating their own legacy of how to live and sing the blues.

An exciting lineage of women singers—originating with Ma Rainey and her protégée Bessie Smith—shaped the blues, launching it as a powerful, expressive vehicle of emotional liberation. Along with their successors Billie Holiday, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Janis Joplin, they injected a dose of reality into the often trivial world of popular song, bringing their message of higher expectations and broader horizons to their audiences. These women passed their image, their rhythms, and their toughness on to the next generation of blues women, which has its contemporary incarnation in singers like Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams (with whom the author has done an in-depth interview). Buzzy Jackson combines biography, an appreciation of music, and a sweeping view of American history to illuminate the pivotal role of blues women in a powerful musical tradition. Musician Thomas Dorsey said, "The blues is a good woman feeling bad." But these women show by their style that he had it backward: The blues is a bad woman feeling good.

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A bad woman feeling good: blues and the women who sing them

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In this excellent introduction to pioneering women blues singers, first-time author Jackson (Ph.D., history) begins with early superstars like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith and traces a legacy of artists ... Read full review


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About the author (2005)

Buzzy Jackson received her Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley, where she lives. This is her first book.

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