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This Week in Texas Music History: Victoria Spivey
by Stephen Becker 15 Oct 2010

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a queen who helped launch a rock star’s career.


Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman meets a queen who helped launch a rock star’s career.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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Victoria Spivey was born in Houston on Oct. 15, 1906. At an early age, Spivey began singing and playing piano in Houston-area nightclubs. She went on to perform with such great artists as Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and Louis Armstrong. Queen Victoria, as she was sometimes called, had her first big hit in 1926 with “Black Snake Blues.” In 1962, Victoria Spivey started her own record label, Spivey Records, which included among its studio musicians a young, unknown harmonica player named Bob Dylan. Spivey continued to perform throughout the United States and Europe until her death in 1976.