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Home Bessie Smith, “Empress of the Blues,” by Carl Van Vechten, 1936. (Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection) Bessie Smith, “Empress of the Blues,” by Carl Van Vechten, 1936. (Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection)

Bessie Smith, “Empress of the Blues,” by Carl Van Vechten, 1936. (Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection)

Bessie Smith, “Empress of the Blues,” by Carl Van Vechten, 1936. (Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection)

Bessie Smith, “Empress of the Blues,” by Carl Van Vechten, 1936. (Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection)

B. B. King, “King of the Blues,” by Murray Lee. (Image courtesy of Tennessee State Photographic Services)