This episode of From the Vault is all about the blues. The blues are commonly thought of as one of the most important and influential popular music styles originating right here in America. In 1998, Angela Davis focused her pen on three blues legends in her book Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude �Ma� Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday. Davis explored the music of these original blues women to illustrate the struggle, heartbreak, and victories of women throughout the 20th century. We�ll hear Davis speak in Los Angeles on a stop in her 1998 book tour.
Then we�ll showcase a special live performance from blues legend Alberta Hunter from 1978. Born in 1895, Hunter began her career in the early 1920�s. A contemporary of �Ma� Rainey and Bessie Smith, Mrs. Hunter became hugely successful with a string of hits like Downhearted Blues and My Man is Such a Handy Man. In 1928 she played Queenie opposite Paul Robeson in the first London production of Showboat. But by the 1950�s she retired from show business and began a career as a nurse. When the hospital forced her to retire in 1977, she began to perform again. Pacifica was there in 1978 to record this Alberta set. Thanks to a grant by the Grammy Foundation we were able to re-master this rare 1978 recording with Alberta Hunter and now present her performance for the first time in many years.