Jessie Smith (singer)

Jessie Smith is an American R&B vocalist. She began her career singing with musician Benny Sharp, recording as Little Miss Jessie. Smith is best known as one of the original Ikettes in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. She later sang backing vocals for various artists, including Dr. John, Paul Williams, Al Kooper, José Feliciano, and Leon Ware.

Life and career

Smith began her career singing with bandleader Benny Sharp and his band the Zorros of Rhythm in St. Louis.[1] Sharp's band included New Breed, a vocal trio consisting of Stacy Johnson, Vernon Guy, and Horise O'Toole. Backed by Sharp and his band, Smith released the single, "My Baby Has Gone" /" St. Louis Sunset Twist," on Chicago's Mel-O Records under the name Little Miss Jessie in 1961.[2]

By 1962, Smith, Johnson, and Guy had left Sharp to join the Ike & Tina Turner Revue which had relocated to Los Angeles.[2] Smith along with Robbie Montgomery who she knew from St. Louis and Venetta Fields (a gospel singer from Buffalo) formed the first official incarnation of the Ikettes.[3] The revue toured throughout the country performing a grueling schedule of one-nighters.[4] They performed at prominent venues such as the Apollo Theater in New York, the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., and the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia.[5] As an Ikette, Smith performed on the American television shows American Bandstand, Hollywood A Go-Go, and Shindig!. Two of the Ikettes' biggest hits were released on Modern Records in 1965, "Peaches 'N' Cream" (Pop #36, R&B #28) and "I'm So Thankful" (Pop #74, R&B #12).[6] Later that year Smith, Fields and Montgomery left the revue and formed the Mirettes in 1966, named after their new label Mirwood Records.[7] They released a few singles, including "In the Midnight Hour" (Pop #45, R&B #18) in 1968.[8] After they disbanded, Smith continued to record as a backing vocalist in the 1970s. On occasion she teamed up with former band member Robbie Montgomery for sessions, such as the recording of Dr. John albums In The Right Place (1973), Triumvirate, (1973), and Desitively Bonnaroo (1974).



  • 1961: "My Baby Has Gone" / "St. Louis Sunset Twist: (Mel-O 101)
  • 1973: "When Love Calls Your Name" (with Mickey Stevenson) / "Please Go" (GSF 6899)

Albums featured as an Ikette/Mirette

  • 1965: Live! The Ike & Tina Turner Show
  • 1967: The Ike & Tina Turner Show (Vol. 2)
  • 1966: Soul The Hits (Modern Records)
  • 1968: In The Midnight Hour (Revue Records)
  • 1969: Whirlpool (Uni Records)
  • 2004: The Bad Man: Rare & Unreissued Ike Turner Produced Recordings 1962-1965 (Night Train International)
  • 2012: Ike Turner Studio Productions: New Orleans and Los Angeles 1963–1965 (Ace Records)[9]

Backing vocal credits

  • 1971: Al Kooper ‎– New York City (You're A Woman)
  • 1973: Bryan Ferry ‎– These Foolish Things
  • 1973: Dr. John ‎– In The Right Place
  • 1973: Mike Bloomfield / John Paul Hammond / Dr. John ‎– Triumvirate
  • 1973: Gloria Jones ‎– Share My Love
  • 1974: Badger ‎– White Lady
  • 1974: Dr. John ‎– Desitively Bonnaroo
  • 1974: José Feliciano – Compartments
  • 1974: Paul Williams – A Little Bit of Love
  • 1975: Johnny Bristol – Feeling the Magic
  • 1976: Leon Ware – Musical Massage


  1. ^ Greensmith, Bill; Camarigg, Mark; Rowe, Mike (2015). Blues Unlimited: Essential Interviews from the Original Blues Magazine. University of Illinois Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-252-09750-8.
  2. ^ a b Braun, Barrett (January–February 1990). "Benny Sharp & The Sharpees" (PDF). The Blues Letter: 5, 11.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  3. ^ Turner, Tina; Loder, Kurt (1986). I, Tina: My Life Story. Internet Archive. New York : Avon Books.
  4. ^ "Artist's Biographies: The Ikettes" (PDF). Billboard: 26. February 10, 1962.
  5. ^ Cooperman, Jeannette (February 26, 2010). "A Conversation With Robbie Montgomery". St. Louis Magazine.
  6. ^ "Ikettes Chart History". Billboard.
  7. ^ "From Music Capitals of the World: Los Angeles" (PDF). Billboard: 34. April 16, 1966.
  8. ^ "The Mirettes Songs Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". Music VF, US & UK hits charts.
  9. ^ "Studio Productions: New Orleans and Los Angeles 1963-1965 - Ike Turner | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.

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