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Bessie Smith's life began with heartbreak, hardship and loss. Born in Chatanooga, TN, one of seven children who's parents would die by the time she was 8. As a teenager, Bessie supplemented her siblings income by singing in the streets with her brother, Andrew, accompanying her on guitar. It was through notoriety gained at this time that Bessie was able to meet Ma Rainey, who became her mentor.
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