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Hat of the Day – Bessie Smith, 1920s

March 12, 2010

I woke up both yesterday and today with a song stuck in my head (not uncommon for me) and decided to use it as my inspiration for the HOTD.  I would’ve published this last night but have been battling allergy season all week, which hit like a freight train on Tuesday along with some gorgeous weather, and decided to relax last night after finishing my  HOTD drawing.

Bessie Smith‘s “Gimme a Pigfoot” is a wonderful blues song that makes me wish I could’ve heard the “Empress of the Blues” in person.  She had a flambuoyant life and a tragic death, and her music is certainly worth checking out, particularly since she was one of the first superstars of the jazz era and the fledgling recording industry of the early 1900s.

I only found two photos of her sporting any sort of headwear and chose to draw the most outrageous of the two headpieces.  The yoke-shaped headdress appears to have been a combination of faux pearls and fringe on a base similar to the shamadan used in wedding zeffas in the Middle East.  I love her expression – jubilant and full of life.  She must’ve been an extraordinary person.  Here’s to you, Bessie!

famous American blues singer Bessie Smith, ca. 1920s, in fringe and faux pearl headdress

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