Laura Smith (unknown – February 1932) was
an American classic female blues and country blues singer. She is best known
for her recordings of 'Gonna Put You Right In Jail' and her version of
'Don't You Leave Me Here'. She led Laura Smith and her Wild Cats, and worked
with Clarence Williams and Perry Bradford. Details of her life outside of
the music industry are scanty.
Smith was probably born in Indianapolis, Indiana, although her date of birth
is unknown. What is certain is that in the early part of the 1920s, Smith
toured the T.O.B.A. circuit. Her recording career started in 1924 with Okeh,
and she finished it just three years later by recording some tracks for
Victor. Music journalist, Scott Yanow, noted that her earliest recordings
were her strongest, 'by the time she recorded 'Don't You Leave Me Here' in
1927, much of the power was gone'. Her recordings included two songs, 'The
Mississippi Blues' and 'Lonesome Refugee', which were both written about the
Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.
She was seen as part of the unrelated set of Smith women (Mamie,
Bessie, Clara and Trixie) who all recorded
blues songs. In total, thirty five numbers were recorded by Laura Smith. It
was reported that by 1926, Smith was married to a comedian, Slim Jones, and
to be living in Baltimore.
Her most notable number, 'Don't You Leave Me Here' was, some ten years
later, made more famous by a version recorded by Jelly Roll Morton.
Laura Smith died of the long term effects of hypertension, in February 1932
in Los Angeles.
All her available recordings have been made released on CD by Document
Records (see below). She is not to be confused with the latter-day, Canadian
folk singer-songwriter, of the same name.