The 1st Black Woman to Make a Blues Record With Vocals Sold 1M Copies in 6 Months

Mamie Smith

Born in 1883, Mamie Smith was a quick study and a young upstart in the entertainment industry. At the age of 10, Smith had become a vaudeville entertainer who would tour with an act called the Four Dancing Mitchells. 
According to Blackpast, Smith starred in a musical titled Made in Harlem in 1918. This led to Smith's inspiration to record her own music. Although she was rejected multiple times while on the search for a recording studio, Smith finally was accepted at Okeh Studios in New York.

This opportunity led to Smith's recording of songs such as "That Thing Called Love" and "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down." With the assistance of other Black musicians, Smith even recorded what is considered by many to be the first blues song on record, "Crazy Blues."

This record reportedly sold seventy-five thousand copies within just the first month. According to NPR, the head of staff at the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress states, "We can't conceive of modern popular American music without these early blues performers and songs...and Mamie Smith was the first one to record this kind of music."