Sippie Wallace: Her Real Name and Other Nicknames

Sippie Wallace was born Beulah Belle Thomas in 1898. Sippie was her childhood nickname. An account in Lone Star & Legends (2001) attributes the nickname to Sippie’s habit of sipping soup through her teeth. Bold Women in Michigan History (2006) says it came about when Sippie’s front teeth were coming in– her family named her after the sipping noises she made when she ate.

Sippie’s chapter in that book is titled “The Detroit Nightingale but she was far more well-known as “The Texas Nightingale.” Sippie sang the blues in the 1920s and when work faded during the Great Depression, she worked outside the music profession, but she still sang in church. Historian Rosetta Reitz once asked Sippie what the difference was between blues and gospel. “Honey, there ain’t no difference,” Sippie replied, “In church we say Jesus and in the blues, we say baby.”

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