More often than not, music history is the product of inspired persistence rather than affected design. Such was the case on August 10, 1920 when Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds entered the Okeh studios in New York City to record Crazy Blues, the first commercial recording of what we now recognize as blues music. Thus began the era of the “Classic Blues Singers,” black female Vaudeville-trained entertainers who, as the pioneering superstars of the fledgling genre, launched the “race record” industry and made the blues a nationwide craze.

Perry Bradford, the composer of Crazy Blues, had to jump a few hurdles to get the session approved. The prevailing attitude among record executives at the time was that African-Americans had neither the interest nor the financial means to buy pre-recorded music. How wrong they were. Within a year, Crazy Blues was reported to have sold an unprecedented one million copies. Rival labels like Paramount, Bluebird, Black Swan and Columbia, anxious to cash in, scoured the Vaudeville circuit signing and recording singers like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter and Lucille Bogan. (Continued...)


Previous Festivals

2007 Thunder Bay Blues Festival There have been many incredible perfomances at past Thunder Bay Blues Festivals! With amazing performances and plenty of activities for the whole family, it has always been an event not to be forgotten! Check out our photo galleries and caricatures:

Photos & Caricatures


Purchase your own Thunder Bay Blues Festival wearables. Mallon's Corporate Impressions supplies you with shirts, caps, and more...
Contact Mallon's

Contact Mallon's Corporate Impressions

Visit us on Facebook and Twitter! image image

In Partnership With

Thunder Bay Community Auditorium
City of Thunder Bay
North of Superior Tourism Region
Staal Foundation Open

Visit Our Sponsors
Contact Us


Bob Halvorsen

General Manager

Community Auditorium

(807) 343-2309