Author Topic: Ma Rainey  (Read 483 times)


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Ma Rainey
« on: November 18, 2019, 09:22:12 AM »
Ma" Rainey (born Gertrude Pridgett, September 1882  or April 26, 1886 December 22, 1939)  was one of the earliest African-American professional blues singers and one of the first generation of blues singers to record.  She was billed as the "Mother of the Blues".

She began performing as a teenager and became known as Ma Rainey after her marriage to Will Rainey, in 1904. They toured with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and later formed their own group, Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. Her first recording was made in 1923. In the next five years, she made over 100 recordings, including "Bo-Weevil Blues" (1923), "Moonshine Blues" (1923), "See See Rider Blues" (1924), "Black Bottom" (1927), and "Soon This Morning" (1927).

Rainey was known for her powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a "moaning" style of singing. Her powerful voice was never adequately captured on her records, because she recorded exclusively for Paramount, which was known for its below-average recording techniques and poor shellac quality.  However, her other qualities are present and most evident in her early recordings "Bo-Weevil Blues" and "Moonshine Blues".

Rainey recorded with Louis Armstrong, and she toured and recorded with the Georgia Jazz Band. She continued to tour until 1935, when she retired and went to live in her hometown.

In 1935, Rainey returned to her hometown, Columbus, Georgia, where she ran three theatres, the Lyric, the Airdrome, and the Liberty Theatre  until her death. She died of a heart attack in 1939, at the age of 53  (or 57, according to the research of Bob Eagle), in Rome, Georgia.

Rainey was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

In 1994, the U.S. Post Office issued a 29-cent commemorative postage stamp honoring her.

In 2004, "See See Rider Blues" (performed in 1924) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was added to the National Recording Registry by the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.

The first annual Ma Rainey International Blues Festival was held in April 2016 in Columbus, Georgia, near the home that Rainey owned and lived in at the time of her death.

Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Prove It On Me Blues

Ma Rainey - Bo-Weavil Blues

Ma Rainey - Moonshine Blues (1923)

Ma Rainey - 'Ma' Rainey's Black Bottom

Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Soon This Morning