Tuesday, April 7, 2009

VICTORIA SPIVEY, "Queen of the Blues"

The “Queen of the Blues”.

'Black Snake Blues’ was her first record which she created with Okeh Records in 1926 and proved to be successful. This record was the cause of a several year rift between her and her long time friend Blind Lemon Jefferson. When Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded "Black Snake Moan" and it proved to be more popular than Spivey's, Spivey accused Jefferson of stealing her song. The dispute was settled amicably and Jefferson and Spivey remained friends

Victoria Spivey's vocal style was characterized by angularity, nasality, and a type of moan, which she called the "tiger moan," reminiscent of a style of black church singing. She also altered the familiar twelve-bar blues structure by adding another four bars, resulting in a sixteen-bar form. Her songs were filled with sexual overtones, double entendres, and outright pornography. The lyrics dealt with contemporary subjects and problems including drugs, the penal system, capital punishment, and lesbianism, all of which were of concern in the daily lives of her listeners.

She formed her own label “Spivey Records”. In 1951 Spivey retired from show business to play the pipe organ and lead a church choir, but she returned to secular music in 1961 upon the revival of folk music and opportunities for a comeback. In 1962, Bob Dylan recorded on her label as a backup harmonica player.

If youre interested in hearing "Black Snake Blues", check it out here: http://www.last.fm/music/Victoria+Spivey/_/Black+Snake+Blues

You can also check out Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Black Snake Moan" and hear the song that caused the long standing rift between the two freinds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3yd-c91ww8
Victoria Spivey, Black Snake Blues, Okey Records, 1926.

**NOTE: Music at this time is undergoing a signficant shift. Because of the onset of the Great Depression in the late 1920's and early 1930's, in addition to the grandiose nature of female performances (which included costumes, stage props, back up instruments, ect) there was a signficant shift from the popularity and viability of producing female music that now began to focus on male music. Male music was downscaled to a great degree and was more economically effective to market at the time.**

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