Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Hartford Changemakers

Black, Latinx, and Indigenous leaders in Hartford History

Bessie Proffitt


Bessie M. Proffitt (1898-1973)

Hartford's First Lady of Jazz, Civic Leader

Proffitt, Hartford’s first lady of jazz, had a more than 50-year singing career that stretched from the Roaring Twenties to the year before her death in 1973. She became one of New England’s leading vocalists, and good friends with musical greats Lionel Hampton, Sophie Tucker, Count Basie and Al Jolson. She was passionate about all people accessing the joy of music, including hosting performances in Connecticut prisons with inmates. In addition to her musical career, she devoted herself to civic projects in Hartford. She was a founding member of the Citizens Committee of the North End and raised the initial $1,000 for the George A. Parker Memorial Center.

Primera Dama de Jazz de Hartford, Líder Cívico

Proffitt, la primera dama del jazz de Hartford, tuvo una carrera de canto de más de 50 años que se extendió desde los locos años veinte hasta el año anterior a su muerte en 1973. Se convirtió en una de las principales vocalistas de Nueva Inglaterra y buenas amigas de los grandes músicos Lionel Hampton, Sophie Tucker, Count Basie y Al Jolson. Le apasionaba que todas las personas accedieran a la alegría de la música, incluso presentando actuaciones en prisiones de Connecticut con reclusos. Además de su carrera musical, se dedicó a proyectos cívicos en Hartford. Fue miembro fundador del Comité de Ciudadanos del North End y recaudó los $ 1,000 iniciales para el George A. Parker Memorial Center.

Hartford Public Library 

Central Branch:  500 Main Street. Hartford, CT 06103 
Phone: 860-695-6300 | Text: 860-530-4376 | Email: | Chat:
For Branch locations and hours, click here