12 Days of Pride: From Bessie Smith To Dee Rees

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Director/Co-writer Dee Rees attends the screening of Netflix's 'Mudbound' at the Opening Night Gala of AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 9, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
CIRCA 1920:  Blues singer Bessie Smith poses for a portrait circa 1920.  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

12 Days of Pride: From Bessie Smith To Dee Rees

A full circle moment of pride.

Published June 19, 2018

We have a special double duo for 12 Days of Pride. Two Black queer women who are connected via music and film is definitely something to celebrate.

12 Days of Pride: Dee Rees


First, there is the iconic empress of the blues, Bessie Smith. She was a queer woman who made no apologies and became famous with songs from the 1920s like "Downhearted Blues,” "The St. Louis Blues,” and "T'ain't Nobody's Biz-Ness if I Do.” Sadly, Bessie died in 1937 at 43 years old after a fatal car crash.

For many years, her story wasn’t widely known until another Black queer woman,  director and writer Dee Rees, made the HBO biopic in 2015 – appropriately titled Bessie, which starred Queen Latifah. Rees told Bessie's story to the masses, letting a whole new generation know about the legacy of this blues singer.

Watch drag superstar Shangela salute to Bessie Smith and Dee Rees in the video above.

Written by Renee Samuel

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