By Kay, Jackie
'She [Bessie Smith] showed me the air and taught me how to fill it ... she's the reason I started singing, really' - Janis Joplin '[Jackie Kay] offers the most vivid evocation of Bessie Smith I have ever read' - Ian Carr, BBC Music Bessie Smith was born in Tennessee in 1894. Orph...aned by nine, she sang on street corners before becoming a big name in travelling shows. In 1923 she made her first record for a new start-up called Colombia Records. It sold 780,000 copies -- making her a star. Smith's life was notoriously wayward. She drank pints of 'bathtub gin', got in violent fist fights, spent huge sums of money and had passionate love affairs with men and women. She once single-handedly fought the Ku Klux Klan. As a young black girl growing up in Glasgow, Jackie Kay found in Bessie someone with whom she could identify and idolise. In this definitive book Kay mixes biography, fiction, poetry and prose to create an enthralling account of an extraordinary life.Read more
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Jackie Kay is a Scottish poet and novelist, and has been the National Poet of Scotland since 2016. She is the author of a number of works, including The Adoption Papers, Trumpet and Red Dust Road. The recipient of numerous prizes, she was also twice shortlisted for the Scottish Book of the Year Award. She is currently chancellor of the University of Salford, and divides her time between Glasgow and Manchester. @JackieKayPoet
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