Back in the days before the internet became a vast treasure trove (and sometimes a junkyard) of various media, my parents had a CD encyclopedia (hey that rhymes!). I was listening to a lot of Janis Joplin at the time, and one of the biographies I was reading mentioned that Bessie Smith was a huge influence on her. So I looked her up. There was an entry, with a sound file. I clicked it. It was just a 20 second sample, but when I heard it, I was done for. I'd never heard anything like it. It was heartbreaking and beautiful. I've been a fan ever since.
That one little clip, inspired a fascination with blues, jazz, ballads sung and recorded many years before I was born. A fascination, and a love which still lasts today.