VICTORIA SPIVEY, 1906-1976

Although not the most revered female blues recording artist to emerge in the 1920s, Texas native Victoria Spivey had the distinction of remaining musically active—both as a composer (e.g., "Big Black Limousine," "Mr. Cab") and singer—virtually her entire life. She was a vital force in the 1960s blues revival, creating her own record label, Spivey, which helped revive the careers of many classic blue artists in addition to nurturing new talents, including Olive Brown, Luther Johnson, Lucille Spann, Sugar Blue, and Bob Dylan.

A child singer/actor in vaudeville, Spivey’s acidic blues vocals earned her a recording contract with Okeh in 1926. Her debut release, "Black Snake Blues" (Okeh; 1926), a hit in the blues market, would be recorded by countless artists over the years. Often backed by legendary musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Lonnie Johnson, and Tempa Red, she would produce definitive versions of "T.B. Blues," "Dope Head Blues," and :Murder in the First Degree." While many blues artists were not recruited to cut records after 1929, she developed an aggressive, modern style which kept her in demand as recording artist during the Depression until 1937.

In addition to running Spivey Records during the blues revival, her Greenwich Village folk connections enabled her to perform on many Prestige/Bluesville albums. Following her death, many LPs containing her work were still in print, including the solo releases Blues Is Life (Folkways 3541), Queen and Her Nights (Spivey 1006), Recorded Legacy of the Blues (Spivey 2001), Victoria Spivey and Her Blues (Spivey 1002), and Victoria Spivey and the Easy Riders Jazz Band (GHB 17).

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