Mamie Smith

Mamie Smith (née Robinson; May 26, 1891 – September 16, 1946) was an American singer. As a vaudeville singer, she performed in multiple styles, including jazz and blues. In 1920, she entered blues history as the first African-American artist to make vocal blues recordings. Willie “The Lion” Smith (no relation) described the background of these recordings in his autobiography Music on My Mind (1964).

Early life
Robinson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1891. The year of her birth has been given as 1883, but in 2018, researcher John Jeremiah Sullivan discovered her birth certificate stating she was born in Cincinnati in 1891.

When she was around age 10, she found work touring with the Four Dancing Mitchells, a white act. As a teenager, she danced in Salem Tutt Whitney’s Smart Set. In 1913, she left the Tutt Brothers to sing in clubs in Harlem and married William “Smitty” Smith, a singer.