Blues  •  Country Blues

Vaudeville Blues

On the African-American T.O.B.A. vaudeville circuit of the 1920s and early '30s, the headlining acts were the blues singers. Even the minstrel shows, with their emphasis on group performance, gave precedence to the blues performer -- more often than not a female firmly rooted in the then-popular classic style of shouting. But the Vaudeville Blues singers had to put on a show with their singing, and many, like the husband and wife team of Butterbeans and Susie, used the blues as a blueprint for their myriad of comedy routines. Others, like Coot Grant and Kid Sox Wilson, were prolific songwriters, using their special material in their stage act while farming out some of the best of it to other singers who worked the same circuit, like Bessie Smith.