Clara Smith

Little is known about Clara Smith's early life other that that she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina. She worked in vaudeville in the late Teens and early 1920s and eventually became a popular performer on the TOBA circuit. In 1923 she moved to Harlem where she worked in cabarets and theaters and began recording exclusively for Columbia. Many critics consider her late 1920's Blues recordings to be second only to Bessie Smith's records in quality. She was billed as the Queen of the Moaners and the World's Greatest Moaner and on her early records she was frequently accompanied by Fletcher Henderson on piano and on her later records featured bands that included first rate Jazz musicians like, James P. Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Don Redman. She recorded three duets "Far Away Blues" and "I'm Going Back To My Used To Be" and "My Man Blues" with Bessie Smith. Bessie and Clara were not related, but they were close personal friends until Bessie got drunk one evening in 1925 and beat up Clara. An interesting bit of trivia was that Clara gave Josephine Baker her first taste of show business in 1920 when she gave the thirteen year old Baker a job as her dresser in her touring company. They also briefly became lovers. Clara Smith continued to record until 1932 and performed live until she died of a heart attack in Detroit in 1935.

Clara Smith and her Jazz Trio Clara Smith and her Jazz Band
Clara Smith and her Five Black Kittens Clara Smith and her Novelty Band
Clara Smith and her Jazz Babies
Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
Ain't Got Nobody To Grind My Coffee
(Clarence Williams / Bud Allen)
8-9-1928 New York, New York Columbia
14368-D
Ain't Nothin' Cookin' What You're Smellin'
(Spencer Williams)
7-15-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14160-D
All Night Blues
(Richard M. Jones / Clarence Williams)
7-27-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A3966
Awful Moaning Blues
Fletcher Henderson at the Piano

(Stanley S. Miller)
9-13-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A4000
Back Woods Blues
(George Brooks)
4-30-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14022-D
Black Woman's Blues
(Smith)
6-1-1927 New York, New York Columbia
14223-D
Broken Busted Blues
(Edgar Dowell)
1-7-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14062-D
Cheatin' Daddy
(Porter Grainger)
11-29-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14192-D
Cold Weather Papa
(Bob Miller)
4-10-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14021-D
Courthouse Blues (1)
(Smith)
4-2-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14073-D
Courthouse Blues (2)
(Smith)
4-2-1925 New York, New York King Akwa
Daddy Don't Put That Thing On Me Blues
(Clement)
1-26-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14398-D
Deep Blue Sea Blues
(Clara Smith)
8-19-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14034-D
Disappointed Blues
(Stanley S. Miller)
9-25-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14126-D
Don't Advertise Your Man
(Jimmy Foster)
4-23-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14026-D
Don't Fool Around On Me
(Porter Grainger)
7-21-1930 New York, New York Columbia
14553-D
Don't Never Tell Nobody
Fletcher Henderson at the Piano

(James P. Johnson)
10-1-1923 New York, New York Columbia
13002-D
Don't Wear It Out
(Hill)
10-31-1930 New York, New York Okeh 8839
Down In The Mouf' Blues
(Porter Grainger)
7-21-1930 New York, New York Columbia
14553-D
Down South Blues
(Alberta Hunter / Fletcher Henderson)
7-27-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A3961
Ease It
(James)
11-23-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14202-D
Empty House Blues
(Andy Razaf)
1-17-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14409-D
Every Woman's Blues
Fletcher Henderson at the Piano

(Stanley S. Miller)
6-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A3943
Far Away Blues
with Bessie Smith

(George Brooks)
10-4-1925 New York, New York Columbia
13007-D
For Sale (Hannah Johnson's Jack Ass)
(Henry Troy / Clarence Williams)
9-25-1931 New York, New York Columbia
14633-D
Get On Board
(Lemuel Fowler)
11-23-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14183-D
Gin Mill Blues
(Lemuel Fowler)
5-21-1928 New York, New York Columbia
14419-D
Good Looking Papa Blues
(Clarence Williams)
1-29-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14026-D
Good Times (Come On Back Once More)
(Gray)
3-7-1931 New York, New York Columbia
14592-D
Got My Mind On That Thing
(Bud Allen)
7-6-1928 New York, New York Columbia
14419-D
He's Mine, All Mine
(Jimmy Foster)
12-16-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14053-D
How'm I Doin'
(Lemuel Fowler)
5-25-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14150-D
If You Only Knowed
(Porter Grainger)
1-8-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14058-D
I Got Everything A Woman Needs
(Stanley S. Miller)
6-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A3943
I'm Going Back To My Used To Be
with Bessie Smith

(Jimmy Cox)
10-4-1925 New York, New York Columbia
13007-D
(I'm Tired Of) Fattenin' Frogs For Snakes
(Perry Bradford)
3-25-1932 New York, New York Columbia
14653-D
I Never Miss My Sunshine
(I'm So Used To Rain)

Fletcher Henderson at the Piano

(Norman Jay Harvey)
9-7-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A4000
Irrestible Blues
Fletcher Henderson At The Piano

(George E. Jefferson)
8-31-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A3991
It's All Coming Home To You
(Porter Grainger)
5-10-1928 New York, New York Columbia
14319-D
It's Tight Like That
(Thomas A. Dorsey / Hudson Whittaker)
1-26-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14398-D
It Takes The Lawd
(To Tell What's On My Mind)

(Porter Grainger)
11-10-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14108-D
I Want My Sweet Daddy Now
(Donald Heywood)
8-31-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A3991
Jelly Look What You Done Done
(Hurston)
5-10-1928 New York, New York Columbia
14319-D
Kansas City Man Blues
(Clarence Johnson / Clarence Williams)
10-2-1923 New York, New York Columbia
12-D
Kind Lovin Blues
(Waters / Mitchell / Fletcher Henderson)
7-27-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A3961
Kitchen Mechanic Blues
(Stanley Miller)
8-20-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14097-D
Let's Get Loose
(Gray)
12-31-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14497-D
Livin' Humble 11-23-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14183-D
Low Land Moan 9-9-1930 New York, New York Columbia
14580-D
Mama's Gone, Good Bye
(Peter Bocage / A.J. Piron)
9-20-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14039-D
Mean Papa Turn In Your Key
(Bob Miller)
4-17-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14022-D
My Brand-New Papa
(Roth / Roth)
5-26-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14143-D
My Good-For-Nuthin' Man
(Spencer Williams)
3-24-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14069-D
My John Blues
(Edgar Dowell)
4-2-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14077-D
My Man Blues
with Bessie Smith

(Bessie Smith)
9-1-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14098-D
My Two Timing Papa
(Stanley Miller)
8-20-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14097-D
Nobody Knows The Way I Feel 'Dis Morning
(Tom Delaney)
1-7-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14058-D
Oh! Mister Mitchell
(Spencer Williams)
9-12-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14536-D
Ol' Sam Tages
(Burns)
8-4-1931 New York, New York Columbia
14619-D
Papa I Don't Need You Now
(Louis)
9-4-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14462-D
Percolatin' Blues
(Lemuel Fowler)
11-23-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14202-D
Pictures On The Wall
(Clara Smith / Fred Longshaw)
1-18-1932 New York, New York Columbia
14645-D
Play It
(W. Benton Overstreet)
7-27-1923 New York, New York Columbia
A3966
Salty Dog
(Papa Charlie Jackson)
5-26-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14143-D
San Francisco Blues
(Thomas "Baby" Grice)
10-7-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14049-D
Separation Blues
(Roth)
7-15-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14160-D
Shipwrecked Blues (1)
(Spencer Williams)
4-2-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14077-D
Sobbin' Sister Blues
(Wallace)
5-23-1928 New York, New York Columbia
14344-D
So Long Jim
(Fred Longshaw / Clara Smith)
3-25-1932 New York, New York Columbia
14653-D
Steamboat Man Blues
(Wallace)
5-23-1928 New York, New York Columbia
14344-D
Steel Drivin' Sam
(Billy Gray)
12-16-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14053-D
Street Department Papa
(Bob Miller)
1-18-1932 New York, New York Columbia
14645-D
Tell Me When
(Williams)
1-17-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14409-D
Texas Moaner Blues
(Clarence Williams)
8-19-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14034-D
That's Why The Undertakers Are Busy Today
(Gray)
6-1-1927 New York, New York Columbia
14223-D
The Basement Blues
(W.C. Handy)
9-20-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14039-D
The Clearing House Blues
(Sadie Honesty / Harry Webb)
4-17-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14019-D
The L & N Blues
(P. Henri)
3-27-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14073-D
The Market Street Blues
(Charlie Creath)
11-10-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14108-D
Tired Of The Way You Do
(Jones)
9-4-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14462-D
Uncle Sam Blues
(Clarence Williams)
10-2-1923 New York, New York Columbia
12-D
Unemployed Papa - Charity Working Mama
(Andy Razaf / Asbestos Jones)
8-4-1931 New York, New York Columbia
14619-D
Waitin' For The Evenin' Mail
Fletcher Henderson at the Piano

(Billy Baskette)
10-1-1923 New York, New York Columbia
13002-D
Wanna Go Home
(Stanley Miller)
7-13-1928 New York, New York Columbia
14368-D
War Horse Mama
(Bob Miller)
4-10-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14021-D
West Indies Blues
(Clarence Williams / Edgar Dowell / Spencer Williams)
4-17-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14019-D
What Makes You Act Like That?
(Hill)
10-31-1930 New York, New York Columbia
14568-D
When I Steps Out
(Lemuel Fowler)
3-27-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14069-D
Where Is My Man?
(Spencer Williams)
9-12-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14536-D
Whip It To A Jelly
(Richard)
5-25-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14150-D
Woman To Woman 9-9-1930 New York, New York Columbia
14580-D
You Better Keep The Home Fires Burning (Cause Your Mamma's Getting Cold)
(Wenrich / Leslie / Kinney)
1-8-1925 New York, New York Columbia
14062-D
You Can't Get It Now
(Potters)
4-7-1927 New York, New York Columbia
14256-D
You Can't Stay Here No More
(Cole)
12-31-1929 New York, New York Columbia
14497-D
You Dirty Dog
(Clarence Williams)
9-25-1931 New York, New York Columbia
14633-D
You Don't Know Who's Shakin' Your Tree
(Stanley Miller)
12-30-1926 New York, New York Columbia
14192-D
You Don't Know My Mind
(Samuel Gray / Virginia Liston / Clarence Williams)
1-29-1924 New York, New York Columbia
14013-D
You Had Too Much
(Alex Hill)
10-31-1930 New York, New York Okeh 8839
You're Getting Old On Your Job
(Hill)
10-31-1930 New York, New York Columbia
14568-D

Artist Instrument
Leon Abbey Violin
Louis Armstrong Cornet
Buster Bailey Clarinet
Elmer Chambers Cornet
Ernest Elliot Clarinet
Charlie Dixon Banjo
Porter Grainger Piano, Kazoo
Charlie Green Trombone
Fletcher Henderson Piano
James P. Johnson Piano
Lonnie Johnson Guitar
Herbert Leonard Harp
Kaiser Marshall Drums
Charles A. Matson Piano
Stanley Miller Piano, Speech
Cecil Scott Clarinet
Don Redman Clarinet, Altosaxophone
Bessie Smith Vocals
Clarence Williams Piano