Known as the 'Empress of the Blues', Bessie Smith (1894-1937) was one of the most popular African-American blues and jazz singers of the 1920s and 1930s, and arguably one of the greatest female singers of her time. She died from injuries sustained in a car crash. Today, her work is revered. The song referred to in the novel, 'A Good Man is Hard to Find', can be listened to here.
Shug declares Celie still a virgin when she realises that Celie has never had an orgasm. Celie learns, with Shug's help, to embrace her own sexuality.