Empress of the Blues.Around 1928, changing popular taste and her growing alcoholism led to a decline in her popularity. Though she continued to tour, her last years were embittered. She died after an automobile accident while on tour in Mississippi, the circumstances of which are discussed in Edward Albee's play The Death of Bessie Smith (1960). Numerous critics regarded her as the greatest of all jazz artists, and her fame increased enormously after her death.
See biographies by P. Oliver (1961) and C. Albertson (rev. ed. 2003).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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