103 NCMusicAd Coltrane Stewart webJohn Coltrane, April 1966 © Chuck Stewart Photography, LLC

 

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Chuck Stewart’s photography provided by Fireball Entertainment Group, courtesy of Chuck Stewart Photographs of John Coltrane, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

 

December 01, 2013
There is a remarkable story tucked halfway through Bessie, Chris Albertson’s biography of the blues singer Bessie Smith, in which Smith approaches a circle of robed North Carolina Klansmen, places one hand on her hip, and begins shaking the other in the air. She hollers obscenities at the men until “they finally turned and disappeared quietly into the darkness.” This is the sort of tale that stinks of apocrypha, but is nonetheless a useful encapsulation of Smith’s particular prowess: shouting darkness into darkness.