Lucille Bogan was a blues singer, and among one of the first black women to be recorded. She was recorded under the pseudonym Bessie Jackson. Bogan was one of “the big three of the blues,” along with Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Many of Bogan’s songs were sexually explicit, and she was generally considered to have been a dirty blues musician.
Bogan was born in Lucille Anderson in Amory, Mississippi, and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She first recorded vaudeville songs for Okeh Records in New York in 1923, with the pianist Henry Callens. Later that year she recorded “Pawn Shop Blues” in Atlanta, Georgia; this was the first time a black blues singer had been recorded outside New York or Chicago. In 1927, she began recording for Paramount Records in Grafton, Wisconsin, where she recorded her first big success, “Sweet Petunia,” which was covered by Blind Blake.
Between 1933 and 1935, Bogan performed and recorded under the pseudonym Bessie Jackson and worked with pianist Walter Roland. Bogan’s recording career came to an end in 1935 and she eventually returned to Birmingham where she reverted to her real name and performed in and managed the group Bogan’s Birmingham Busters but did not appear on either of the group’s records. In the late 1930s or early 1940s, Bogan moved to the West Coast. She died in Los Angeles in 1948 of coronary sclerosis.