Sunday, July 22, 2018



2018 Miss Bessie Smith--Kaiya Smith



(Chattanooga, TN.) --Growing up in the City of Chattanooga, Kaiya Moore never imaged she would be among the area’s first title holders, after all, she’s only 17 years old.  

In February, The Center for Creative Arts or (CCA) high school junior competed with seven other local high school girls and won the title of Miss Bessie Smith 2018 during The Cultural Center’s inaugural pageant.  “The Miss Bessie Smith Pageant truly personifies the self-confidence and passion within our future leaders of tomorrow,” said Christy Rashed, Pageant Coordinator, and Executive Director.

“I honestly believe it’s the perfect vehicle for these young women, regardless of their socio-economic background. It helps them to freely express their inner beauty, talent, and scholastic achievements,” Rashed said.

A dynamo in true form, and in the spirit of Bessie Smith, Kaiya Moore recently returned to the Cultural Center and performed during The Annual Bessie Smith-“Strut!”  

Center stage, adorned with crown and sash, this aspiring singer, and actress belted out three show tunes with the same “sassy spirit” and tenacity as Bessie Smith, The Empress of Blues herself.

"Here She Is"......Miss Bessie Smith, 2018

“Walking down the street during The Strut, wearing the crown and seeing other little girls looking at me with such hope in their eyes really made me feel good,” said Moore.

“I have very fond memories of The Strut. My father would take me every year when I was a little girl. He would put me on his shoulders and we would walk down MLK listening to all of the live music, watching all of the people. I never imagined I would one day be on stage singing, wearing the crown and representing the city as its first-ever Miss Bessie Smith 2018,” Moore said.  

It’s already shaping up to be a busy and active summer for the newly crowned Miss Bessie Smith. Kaiya is currently focused on college as she moves into her senior year at CCA. After a brief vacation in the Bahamas, with her family in June, next stop, “The Big Apple” for a residential, international summer enrichment program for young women of color with “BLACK GIRLS LEAD,” a youth, mentoring empowerment program of “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!”  

2018 "Black Girls Rock Conference in New York"
The national stage is also where this Chattanooga resident will shine brightly. Kaiya will be the only local high school girl representing the state of Tennessee at the 7-day empowerment conference proudly featured every year on BET (Black Entertainment Television) network.  The conference will be held July 29th-August 4th on the campus of Columbia University in New York.

Mrs. Rashed suggested that I sign up for the summer conference. “Let me just say the application process is tough,” proclaimed Moore.

BLACK GIRLS ROCK organizers require a copy of the applicant’s high school transcripts, a letter of recommendation, a detailed questionnaire an essay and a promotional video of why the applicant should be selected. “Organizers of the conference told me my video entry sold them on my selection,” said Moore.

“It will not be her first trip to New York City, however, it could be the most memorable. “I’ve always been a person who has enjoyed helping others.  The BLACK GIRLS LEAD conference is giving me an even bigger platform and the tools I need to come back and be the positive change to my community, “ said Moore.

After winning the title of Miss Bessie and earning a covenant spot on this national stage, Kaiya Moore is one “BLACK GIRL WHO ROCKS,” but understands what it means to remain “humble” in the mist of great success.”

“I am not only confident and talented, it is also imperative I am helpful for the next generation. It’s important for me to know my family, my community and the Cultural Center will always see me as someone they rely on whenever they need me,” said Moore.

And that folks, what the “spirit of Bessie” is all about.




              "A LEGACY FOR TOMORROW"

For more information on the Miss Bessie Smith Pageant, visit www. or contact Mrs. Christie Rashed, Pageant Coordinator at or contact, Paula Wilkes, President of The Bessie Smith Cultural Center (423) 266-8658.


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