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Usually, when we want to have the lyrics of a certain song, especially when we don't have the actual physical album of a musician in hand, we look for it on Google.

As I have experienced several times, it happens frequently that the lyrics one find on websites are not really accurate. Is there any reliable website with lyrics of songs?

In particular, I'm interested on finding lyrics of the classic blues singers, like Ma Rainey or Bessie Smith. Does anyone know a place, a book, or a website, where I can find the complete lyrics of their complete works?

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    My first stop for lyrics is always genius.com, but it can also be plagued by the problems you mention, especially for lesser known songs, since it's still all user-entered. A quick search shows a couple dozen transcribed songs for Bessie Smith and 6 for Ma Rainey, so your milage may significantly vary. – Lin Jul 10 '15 at 16:33
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The only sources that I would consider as official, are:

  • Inner sleeves or booklets that can sometimes include the lyrics of the album songs. If you don't possess the material record, you can try Discogs. If you are lucky, you can find scans of inner sleeves and booklets that a user owner of the disc may have uploaded.
  • Official songbooks sold by stores related to the artist (that can also include chords).
  • Official artist's website can sometimes include lyrics.

Other sources are oftenly fan work and can be misleading, have misheard lyrics etc...


Now, about Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, as they were active before the 30s, they probably haven't official websites... and they records were essentialy old 10", hence less detailed information in the sleeve. I did find some songs ramdomly on the Internet, but as you said, there were mostly isolated (not all songs in one website) and fan work.

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