'St. Louis Blues'

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 (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
(Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

In 1914, W.C. Handy, a middle-class African American, wrote "St. Louis Blues." It came at a time when Tin Pan Alley's popular songs began to fuse with folklore to explore the blues, the form that led to the full-fledged birth of American jazz.

NPR's Margaret Howze reports on the song's background and its definitive 1925 recording by Bessie Smith, with cornet accompaniment by Louis Armstrong.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

More Photos:

American singer Bessie Smith, known as the Empress of the Blues, circa 1935.

American singer Bessie Smith, known as the Empress of the Blues, circa 1935.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.