American Routes Shortcuts: Bessie Smith

Mar 27, 2020
Bessie Smith
Carl Van Vechten, restored by Adam Cuerden

Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, was the first African American superstar, an artist that mingled regal dignity with sensuality. We’ll sample her recorded legacy, talk with critics and hear memories of her contemporaries from the Jazz Age of the 1920s.


Ian McNulty

The coronavirus fight has been brutal for the New Orleans hospitality industry, with massive job losses and sudden business closures. Looming over it all, there’s anguished foreboding for what this part of our community will look like on the other side of this.

And yet there is hope. And that hope is us.

Ashley Dean / WWNO

New Orleans is a city of social closeness — of parades, of sweaty dance floors, of social clubs, of tourist attractions teeming with bodies.

And now it’s a city with the highest rate of deaths from COVID-19 per capita.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The latest on the spread of coronavirus in New Orleans and across Louisiana today, March 26.

Patrick Madden / WWNO

Dr. Jeff Elder was an intern at Charity Hospital when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. He figured that would be the biggest emergency he’d deal with in his career.

He was wrong.

Rosemary Westwood / WWNO

Update, March 30: Two abortion clinics have resumed operations this week. 

Patients are being seen at the Women's Health Care Center in New Orleans and the Hope Medical Group for Women clinic in Shreveport.

Ashley Dean / WWNO

The full reconstruction of the 800 block of St. Ann Street in the French Quarter has come to a halt, the City of New Orleans announced today.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Many of the cultural traditions in New Orleans, and South Louisiana more generally, set the region apart from the rest of the country. And one of the biggest ways is how we honor the lives of our loved ones after they’ve died.

Travis Lux / WWNO

NOLA Public Schools has bought 10,000 Chromebook laptops for its students to improve distance learning from their homes, the school district said in a press release Tuesday afternoon.

James Demaria

In mid-March, the members of the New Orleans-based band Bon Bon Vivant found themselves stranded in Reno. The spread of the coronavirus had begun to shut down cities across the U.S., canceling their tour gigs. Then it started to snow.