The Leslie Flint Educational Trust

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The Bessie Smith séance


Recorded: December 11th 1967


Bessie Smith talks of a life on Earth where she lived for over forty years
as a slave in Alabama, picking cotton for her masters.

Her voice is strong and even loud at times.

Bessie explains that death bought her a welcome release from her body
and a level of freedom she did not expect,
but she was more surprised to find that, in heaven, no one had wings!


Leslie Flint is heard responding to Bessie's humour
towards the end of this communication.


Betty Greene records Leslie's rather breathless introduction
and Mickey is the first voice to communicate...


“I found myself free, for the first time in my life”

 

Note: This audio has been enhanced from a fifty year old original recording.

It is much clearer than when first published by the Trust.

 
 
 

Please read the full transcript below as you listen...


Additional Notes: Bessie's accent, pronunciation and terminology fluctuate wildly throughout this communication

and we are told that many factors can affect a clear spirit voice.


To produce an audible voice, the spirit people use an artificial voice-box,
which is modelled on the vocal organs of the medium and built from material taken from the people in the room.


Bessie refers to other spirits in the room, of many different nationalities.
Are they all working together to help Bessie produce a voice we can hear? Is it their influence we can hear through Bessie's voice?



Present: Betty Greene, George Woods, Leslie Flint.
Communicators: Mickey, Bessie Smith, Doctor Charles Marshall.




Greene:
Alright...

Flint:

This séance...was recorded...on the eleventh...of December...1967. Medium Leslie Flint...

Greene:
Thank you Leslie.

Flint:
I just realised - is it the eleventh?



Mickey:
[Good] morning.

Greene:
Hello Mickey love. How are you?


Mickey:
Oh I'm alright thank you. How are you both?

Greene:
Fine thank you.

Woods:
Oh, very well thank you Mickey.


Mickey:
Good. Hold on...


Greene:
Thank you Mickey.


Flint:
Huh!


Woods:
Thank you Mickey.


Greene:
'Hold on'!


[Break in recording]


Flint:
Hello what?

Greene:
Good morning friend.


Woods:
Good morning.

Greene:
It was a lady, whoever it was...


Woods:
A lady, I'm sure. I think so yes.


Smith:
Hello Masser.


Woods:
Hello.

Greene:
She said 'hello master' it sounded like...

Woods:
How are you?

Smith:
I be alright. How are you Massers?


Woods:
Very well thank you.


Greene:
What's she call us?

Woods:
I don't know. But, uh...


Greene:
Hello friend.

Woods:
Come along friend. We're very pleased you've come through.


Smith:
I haven't met you before.

Woods:
You've been...


Greene:
You've been here before?

Woods:
Have you?


Smith:
No.


Greene:
You haven't?

Woods:
No?


Smith:
I haven't been here before.


Greene:
You haven't.

Smith:
No.

Greene:
Oh, you're American aren't you?


Smith:
How are you Massers?


Woods:
Very well.

Greene:
I'm very well thank you, yes.… Is that what she said?

Can you give us a talk friend?


Woods:
You lived in America did you?


Flint: [Yawning]


[Break in recording]


Woods:
Yes?

Greene:
Hello friend?

Smith:
A number of people here now.


Greene:
Are there?

Smith:
Sure is.

Greene:
Who is it speaking, please?


Smith:
I'm not sure if you an hear what I say to you.


Greene:
We can hear very nicely thank you.


Woods:
Oh...

Smith:
Hello there!


Woods:
We can hear you well, very well indeed.


Smith:
My name is Bessie.


Greene:
Bassy?

Woods:
Yes?

Smith:

No. Bessie.


Woods:
Oh yes, Bassy.

Smith:
I can't hear you.


Greene:
You can't hear us?


Woods:
Well, we can hear you.

Smith:
I ain't heard no singing here. Most places I goes to there's always singing.


Woods:
Yes.

Smith:
You don't go in for singing then, when you have your meetings?


Greene:
Not really, no. We have our meetings on our own, you see?


Smith:
You're no good to do that.


Greene:
Oh...

Smith:
You have to have plenty of singing if you want to get good power up.

Woods:
Yes.

Greene:
Yes.
Um...can you tell us something about yourself, love?


Woods:
Did you live in America?

Greene:
Yes, she's American alright.


Smith:
I was in cotton fields.


Greene:
Yes. I thought so. Yes, yes.


Woods:
Oh, cotton fields were you?


Smith:
Yeah. I sure was.

Greene:
Yes.

Smith:
And I have no doubt you've heard about that...


Greene:
Yes.


Woods:
Yes.

Smith:
Sure. Long time ago now.


Greene:
Yes.

Woods:

Well, it's very nice you've come through.


Smith:
My name's Bessie.

Greene:
Bessie. Bessie.

Woods:
Bessie:

Smith:
Yeah.

Woods:
Oh yes.

Greene:
Oh yes. Bessie, can you tell us something about your life?

[Break in recording]


Smith:
[I've] been through many times in America, but not here.


Greene:
Oh yes?

Smith:
I heard about places like London and Paris and all that, you know...

Greene/Woods:
Yes.

Smith:
...since I came here. I speak to many people...

Greene:
Yes.

Smith:
...and they talk to me about these various places, you know. And I decides, I goes and I looks for myself.


Greene:
And you've seen them?

Smith:
Sure have.

Greene:
And they've surprised you have they Bessie?

Smith:
I wouldn't want to live in your world.

Greene:
No. I shouldn't think you would after your experiences.

Smith:
I had a hard life.

Greene:
Yes.

Smith:
But I has no regrets now.

Woods:
No. What are you doing that side now?

Smith:
I is teaching the wee ones.

Greene:
Oh yes?

Woods:
Yes? Oh, are you?

Smith:
Sure. Many children come here.


Woods:
Yes.

Smith:
I have a school.

Greene:
Have you - got your own school Bessie?

Smith:
Yeah. I sure have.


Woods:
That's nice.

Smith:
And I wouldn't come back...not to be in your world for anything at all.

Greene:
No?
Bessie, what was your... what did you think of when you first passed over? I mean, how did you...


Smith:
I was right glad to get out of that there body of mine. I sure was. Gee! I sure was.

Greene:
I bet you were.

Smith:
I was real glad to out of that body of mine and get free. It was a wonderful feeling to be free.

Woods:
It must have been.


Greene:
How did you find yourself, in what sort of, um...


Smith:
What do you mean, 'how did I find myself'? I found myself free, for the first time in my life.


Greene:
But what were you actually...in a...were you in the cotton fields when you...?

Smith:
Yeah, I sure was in cotton fields. I was there for forty-five years.

Greene:
Oh lord.

Woods:
Were you really?


Smith:
My mama and my papa, they were slaves too.

Greene:
Mmm-hmm. Yes.


Smith:
I was brought up in slavery.

Greene:
Oh, dreadful.

Woods:
Oh, how dreadful.


Greene:
But Bessie, when you passed...


Smith:
But they weren't too bad times at that place.

Greene:
No?

Smith:
They were pretty kind. Not so bad as some places I heard about, you know.


Woods:
No?


Smith:
Masser and Missus weren't too bad to us. We had our own little place, you know.


Greene:
Oh, you did? Mmm...


Smith:
There were many of us there.

Greene:
But Bessie, when you got over, who met you?

Smith:
We had a good bed, not so bad to eat, you know.


Greene:
No?

Smith:
What was that you just said to me?

Greene:
When you...when you passed over Bessie - when you died - who met you? I mean, what...


Smith:
Ah, my mama and my pappy.

Greene:
Yes.

Smith:
And brothers and sisters and other people, what I didn't know, you know.

Greene:
Yes... and what did you do when you got over?

Smith:
I was so surprised I had not got wings!

Green: [Laughing]

Woods: [Laughing]


Smith:
I sure did. When I realised where I was, I felt behind my back and I hadn't got no wings at all, you know... I didn't know what to think. And I could see all them there people all around me, and no one had wings. And I thought, 'well, am I in Heaven, because no one's got no wings here?'


Woods:
No.


Smith:
But I realised later that they don't have wings. But I was always taught, you know, that when you went to Heaven you had great big wings, and the better you was, the bigger your wings was.


Greene:
Oh yes...


Smith:
I expected I'd have little tiny wings, but I didn't have none.


Greene:
What did you do...


Smith:
At first I was real worried about that. I thought, 'I must be in the bad place', you know. But I found out that I was alright. You know, you two people - I heard about you from people on this side. They told me about you and that's why I came here.


Woods:
Well, we're very please you did.


Greene:
Very pleased Bessie. Can you tell us something about...


Smith:
I believe you do a lot of work on your side...


Woods:
We try to.

Smith:
...helping people understand more and more about this here truth, huh?

Greene:
Yes.

Smith: [Shouting]
That sure is good that is. I'm very glad for you. Because you do good work for a lot of people...uh?

Greene:
Well, we try to Bessie.

Woods:
Well, we're so pleased you've come through...


Smith:
I heard all about you Masser.

Woods:
You have?

Smith:
Yeah, I guess I have. Your name's well-known over here boy!

Greene: [Laughing]


Woods:
I hope it's known in a good sense?


Smith:
Oh, it's alright. You got nothing to worry about.


Greene: [Laughing]


Woods:

And, what sort of...

Smith:
You's not [a] bad man, you's a very good man in your way, you know. You's try to tell people all about this and that's very good.


Greene:
Bessie, how are you living on the other side?

Smith:
I's live fine. I's live right real fine. I do. And I wish you could my dress. It's a real nice dress I have on - especially to come here and talk to you people.

Greene:
Oh, well that's...


Smith:
It's a pity you can't see as well as hear.


Greene:
Well, can't you explain it to us Bessie?

Smith:
Sure! I got a very pretty blue dress and it's way down to my feet, you know.


Greene:
Yes?

Smith:
Real nice. And it's beautifully made, you know and I makes it myself.


Greene:
Oh, do you...

Smith:
And I got a beautiful headdress too and I's got a star right in the middle, I have, you know. And I earns that star. I did not make it, it was made for me. I earns it and I's right proud of it. I really is.


Greene:
Lovely. What sort of house have you got Bessie?

Smith:
I got a wee place here. I suppose you'd not call it a mansion, it's certainly not a big place, but it's real dandy. You know, it's a real pretty place I have, it's a very small place, but it just suits me. And I'm here with my mother and my papa and my brothers and my sisters.


Greene:
Jolly nice.

Woods:
Oh, jolly nice.


Smith:

It's big enough for us though.


Woods:
I hope I meet you when I come over there.


Smith:
Sure, I will be pleased to meet you Masser, when you come. I don't think that's going to be so long either.


Greene:
Oh dear!

Woods:
No? Well I shall be very...


Smith:

Well you must be getting on now for well over seventy.

Woods:
Oh yes I am.


Smith:
And you don't live forever you know - thank God for that! Praise be the Lord!


Woods:
Yes.

Greene: [Laughing]

Flint: [Laughing]

Woods:
And what is your world like... in... in colour and everything?


Smith:
Ah, it's very much like it was downstairs. I've got beautiful house, beautiful place, nice scenery. Lovely trees and fields and beautiful animals and also some pets.

Greene:
Mmm?

Smith:
I's got a real good puss. [cat]

Greene:
Have you?


Woods:
Have you really?

Smith:
Sure. She is the best puss you ever did see in your whole life. She is a big puss. She is almost as big as a lion.


Greene:
Is she really?

Woods:
Oh, is she really?


Greene:
She's got a most beautiful face. I was always mad about cats, you know.


Greene/Woods:
Yes?

Smith:
And I had cats when I was on your side and it had many kittens and I guess this cat's the best cat you ever did see. She's a beauty. I tell you that, boy!

Greene:
What do you call her Bessie?

Smith:
I calls her Matilda. That's what I calls her. I calls her Matilda, because she's a beautiful girl and she was a big cat when she was on your side, but she's three-four times bigger over here. I guess it's my love that makes her that big, you know.


Woods:
What colour is she...?


Smith:
Ah, she's a... what do you call it now... a striped cat, you know.


Greene:
Oh, tabby?


Woods:
Tabby?


Smith:
I don't know how's you call it in your country, but she's got stripes all over.


Greene:
Oh, she's tabby

Woods:
That's very nice, yes.


Greene:
We call them tabby cats.


Smith:
You fond of cats?

Greene:
Oh I love them, yes.

Woods:
Can you talk to her?


Smith:
Sure I talk to her. She talks to me too.


Woods:
Does she?

Smith:
But she don't talk with her mouth.


Greene/Woods:
No?

Smith:
She talks with her mind, and I knows what that girl thinks.


Greene/Woods:
Yes.


Smith:
We is inseparable, we is.


Greene:
I love any animals Bessie.

Smith:
Sure, you must love animals.

Woods:
We do.


Greene:
I love them.

Smith:
If you don't love animals there's something radically wrong with you... and you'll never go to heaven if you don't like God's creatures.

Woods:
Do you... have you any birds over there?

Smith:
Sure birds - but the birds are not offended by the cats.


Woods:
No.

Greene:
No.


Smith:
You got any birds?

Woods:
Yes.


Greene:
Well, not our own. Not a pet. We don't like caged birds. We've got wild birds...


Smith:
No I don't think that's right, you know, that you should have birds put in cages.


Greene:
No, we have nothing like that.


Woods:
No. They're wild, but we feed them every day.


Smith:
Yeah?
And my hair's straight - am I glad about that. You know, when I used to see Missus and other friends of the white people and their hair was so nice and straight, I used to say, 'gee, golly me, I wish I had nice straight hair'. My hair was all frizzed up, you know. Now I got straight hair, I guess that's real something, ain't it?

Greene: [Laughing]
You're pleased, is that what you wanted?


Woods:
Yes it is. Very nice.

Smith:
Yeah, I always wished my hair was straight, like Missy, you know.


Greene:
Uh-huh...


Smith:
It was all fuzzed up now. Oh gee! I don't know. But I always wished I had got beautiful straight hair. Now my hair's as straight as anything... I's real happy about that.


Greene:
Jolly good Bessie.

Smith:
I guess, if you waits long enough you get most things, if you deserve it.


Woods:
Oh yes.

Greene:
Yes, I think so.


Smith:
That's why, when you come here, I see... I think you'll be a real Masser. You'll have all the things you want.


Woods:
Well I shall be very happy if I can...


Smith:
I don't think you got much long to wait now!


Woods:
Beg your pardon?

Smith:
I don't think you got much...long to wait now.


Woods:
Oh?

Smith:
I guess you'll be coming her pretty soon.


Woods:
Oh, shall I?


Greene:
Well, funny thing you should say that Bessie, because I thought the same.


Smith:
I don't think you's need to worry about that. You'll be alright when you gets here Masser. You'll be running around like a young man of about eighteen or so...

Woods/Greene: [Laughing]


Smith:
…none of your gout!


Woods:
Well shall I be able to help people on this Earth again?

Smith:
Aye, if you wants to. But I guess you'll have a good rest when you get here. I guess Missy will have to do without you for a few years.


Greene:
Oh, I expect I shall...


Smith:
But you don't want to worry about that. You'll be alright.


Greene: [Laughing]
Oh I shall be very happy for him. I shall be a little sad for myself I'm afraid.


Smith:
Ah!

Woods:
I don't mind, as long as I can do a little more work on this side. I want to help people more on this side yet.


Greene:
Anyway, I shall be coming up to talk to him I hope, Bessie!


Smith:
Ah, you will.

Woods:
Bessie, what is your world like around...the rivers - have you any rivers near you or lakes and things like that?


Greene:
Oh has she gone?

Woods:
Oh you haven't gone Bessie have you?


Greene:
Isn't she lovely?

Woods:
Oh she is, she's marvellous.


Smith:
You know what I have too?


Greene:
No?


Smith:
I got them dandy shoes, you ever did see!


Greene/Woods:
Have you really?

Smith:
I sure have.

Greene:
You didn't wear shoes in the cotton fields, did you?

Smith:
No.

Greene:
No.

Smith:
But I have got real nice shoes.


Greene:
Oh lovely.

Smith:
I always wanted a pair of real good shoes, you know, and one of the first things I was presented with when I got here, was these dandy shoes.

Greene:
What were they like, Bessie?

Smith:
Oh, they're real nice.

Greene:
Can't you describe them to us?

Smith:
Sure. They got good heels and they're pretty and they are black and they got little balls.

Greene:
Oh, lovely.

Woods:
Oh that's lovely.

Smith:
And my hair! Oh, if you could see my hair. I was so pleased with my hair. It's really nice and straight and long, you know.

Greene:
I can just picture you...

Smith:
I look after all the little ones.

Greene:
You look after the little ones?

Smith:
Yeah, and I've been helping them over and helping them when they get here.

Greene:
Yes.

Smith:
And if they've not got their mama and papa here, if I can help in any way, I will, you know. I take some of them in too and I teach too, in a school.

Woods:
What do you teach them?

Smith: [Shouting]
I had no education on your side of life, I guess. But I am mad about education since I have been here. Oh boy, oh boy! There is not enough I couldn't find out about education. I wanted to know this and I wanted to know that.

And, you know, they tells me, 'You want to know too much too soon, you do'. So, I says, 'well I've got to learn, I've got a lot of catching up to do'. And I've been studying and studying and now I nearly knows the ins and the outs of most things.

Oh, boy, I'm glad to be a teacher. I loves eduction. I think education is a marvellous thing, don't you?

Woods:
Oh yes. I think...

Greene:
Yes, rather.

Smith:
Are yous well educated? Eh? Yous got good schools I bet, eh?

Greene:
I've been to school yes.

Smith:
Ain't school marvellous. Oh boy, oh boy am I happy to be at school. I still go to school. I goes to school as regular, as regular, as regular I does. And then I passes on me information and me knowledge and I goes back home and I says, 'I learned this today, I knows this' and so on.

And I teach the others too and the little ones, they learn a lot from me now.

Greene:
Jolly good Bessie.

Woods:
Jolly good.

Smith:
And I loves to do things like dance. Oh boy, do I dance! You should see me dancing. Ah, you'd scream with laughter. Ah, you'd go into fits of hysterics. Oh boy, oh boy.

I's [come] to the dancing as you never saw... did see, you know.

Greene:
Lovely.

Smith:
I'd love to teach people to dance. I teach the kids too. I shows them. I says, 'come on Sonny, come on Missy, we're going to have a real good time'. And we do too. Oh boy!

Greene:
Square dancing?

Smith:
What's that you say?

Greene:
You do the square dancing?

Smith:
Oh nothing as old-fashioned as all that.

Greene:
Oh?

Smith:
Oh, we know new ones too.

Greene:
Oh do you?

Woods:
Do you play any instruments, or music or...

Smith:
No, but many of my people do and my family. They got various instruments they plays and we have real fun times.

Greene:
Lovely.

Smith:
The Lord loves those who are happy, you know.

Greene:
Oh yes.

Woods:
Yes.

Smith:
Ah, don't you get the idea in your head; because you got come over here - like I used to think - you have to have wings and you was always going to be praying to the Lord. No, he doesn't want you to pray to him; he wants you to be happy and to love and do the nice things. Make people happy, you know.

Greene/Woods:
Yes.

Smith:
Religion's what you feel and what you believe and what you know and what you do.

Greene:
It's how you live your life, isn't it Bessie.

Smith:
Ah! I gets so excited when I talk to you people. Ah!

Greene: [Laughing]
It's lovely!

Woods:
Lovely.

Smith:
There's a crowd of people here. All nationalities, all standing around here. We're all one big family.

Greene:
Yes.

Smith:
And we're all free. Bless the Lord. That's marvellous.

Greene:
Yes.

Woods:
That is so. Yes. And, uh...

Smith:
You two going to be married?

Greene/Woods:
No.

Smith:
Well, you haven't got much time, because he's coming over here soon.

Woods:
We are... we...

Flint: [Laughing]

Woods:
We... we do this work together, that's what we do.

Smith:
Oh, you're just partners in business, is that it?

Woods:
No, we're just help..

Flint: [Laughing]

Greene: [Laughing]

Woods:
...to know this truth - that's what we do.

Flint: [Laughing]

Woods:
We dedicate our lives to this work, you see.

Smith:
I sure think you are somebody.

Greene/Woods: [Laughing]

Smith:
For an old man you do quite well.

Woods:
A lot of people will hear you on the tapes. You know we are taking you... recording it, so other people can hear you talk, Bessie.
She hear that?

Greene:
I don't know if she understood that.

Woods:
No.

Smith:
My name is Bessie Smith.

Greene:
Bessie Smith?

Smith:
Yeah.

Woods:
Bessie Smith?

Greene:
Bessie, you know, as you are speaking, so this is going down on a certain machine that we... people will be able to hear your voice afterwards.

Greene/Woods: [Whispering]

Woods:
Can you hear that Betty?

Greene:
Bessie!

Woods:
...Bessie.

[Silence]

Woods:
I hope she hasn't gone.

Greene:
Isn't she lovely?

Woods:
She's lovely. Very glad to have her talk.

Greene:
I wonder what... I wonder what place in the cotton... what place it was...?

Smith:
Alabamie.

Greene:
Pardon?

Woods:
What?

Smith: [Quietly]
Alabamie.

Greene:
Bam...? Alabama!

Woods:
Alabama?

Greene:
Alabamie did you say? Alabama?

Flint: [Sniffing]

Greene:
As you say...you call it Alabamie don't you, that's right. Yes, Alabamie.
Southern states of America...

Woods:
Southern states of America?

Greene:
...where the cotton fields are.

Woods:
Come on Bessie...

Greene:
I thought she was...
Bessie, you haven't gone, love, have you?

Marshall:
I think the power...

Greene:
Oh...

Marshall:
I think she took so much power, such vitality...

Greene:
She was marvellous.

Marshall:
And considering it was her first attempt at anything like this, it's quite extraordinary. But she is such a tremendous personality and I'm hoping that she may come again for you, because I think she could be most informative. She's a remarkable character...

Woods:
Oh, lovely.

Marshall:
...and a wonderful soul.

Woods:
She is.

Marshall:
And as she draws near Earth she takes on her old personality extraordinarily well.

Woods:
Yes.

Marshall:
Which of course, from your point of view, is most interesting.

Greene:
Yes.

Marshall:
And, uh... it's true that... she is very active here; she loves people, she loves doing everything she possibly can and she is an extraordinary character. She so wants to know and to learn and to pass on information and knowledge. You see, she was so restricted on your side.

Greene:
Mmm...

Marshall:
And her knowledge was, well...negligible.

Greene:
Mmm...

Marshall:
And she had no opportunity for learning; not being able to read or write. And she used to - not envy perhaps - but she used to see others more fortunate than herself and she's always longed to be educated and to know everything she possibly can. So she is now a very advanced soul. You must not altogether judge...by her voice...

Greene:
Oh no!

Woods:
Oh no, we don't.


Marshall:
...because you must realise that drawing near to Earth she does take on something of the old self. And, no doubt, as she communicates - as I am hoping she will in the future - she will assert herself even more. And if you encourage her, as I am sure you will, I think you will find her - not only interesting and informative - but amusing, of course, in a kind of way.


But, at the same time, she is a soul who, I think, can bring a great deal of interest and thought and idea to a communication, which will be of value to others who may be fortunate enough to listen. She doesn't of course understand anything about tape recordings.

Greene:
No.

Marshall:
And, um, that doesn't really matter. It's what she eventually may communicate to you that is important, that others may have benefit of hearing. Just...um... be patient, because these things, obviously with some souls, do take time. But considering, I thought she was extraordinary.

Greene:
Oh she was very...

Woods:
She was very good...

Greene:
She was marvellous.

Marshall:
Anyway, I shall look forward to seeing you again soon and my blessing to you both.

Greene:
Thank you.

Marshall:
And of course, her idea of time George, isn't everyone's idea. But she senses, I suppose, as she draws nearer to Earth that conditions around you suggest - to her - that you are not going to be too long on your side. But there again, you mustn't think that that is next week or tomorrow.

Woods:
No.

Marshall:
It could be several years.

Woods:
Yes, quite.

Marshall:
All my love and blessings...

Woods:
[Oh, I've got a lot of work on this side.]

Greene:
Thank you Doctor Marshall.

Marshall:
Yes, goodbye.

Greene:
Will you remember us to Mrs Marshall?

Marshall:
I certainly will. Goodbye.

Greene:
Thank you. Goodbye.

Mickey:
Bye-bye. Bye-bye.

Greene:
Goodbye Mickey.

Woods:
Thank you so much...

Greene:
Thank you Mickey.

Woods:
...for coming Mickey.

Voice:
Goodbye.

Woods:
Thank you so much Doctor Marshall.

Flint:
Hmm!



END OF RECORDING

This transcript was Kindly created for the Trust by K.Jackson-Barnes - December 2019