Composer, musician, singer, EXTREME BADARSE PERFORMER. There are dramatic stories about Smith seeing off violent white men in her tent shows, about her numerous lovers of both sexes, and about her violent death. My favourite is the one about working with a young Louis Armstrong, where she demanded that he play a little less enthusiastically as he was cramping her style. I have no idea whether it’s true or not. But the influence of Smith’s performing style on instrumentalists like Armstrong should not be underestimated.