Ma Rainey:The Badass Black Queer Blues Singer From The ‘20s

If you are into Blues or Jazz, you must know The Mother Of Blues ‘Ma Rainey’. Well, if you don’t, this article will get yo...

2 years ago
Ma Rainey:The Badass Black Queer Blues Singer From The ‘20s

If you are into Blues or Jazz, you must know The Mother Of Blues ‘Ma Rainey’. Well, if you don’t, this article will get you acquainted with one of the most badass black queer woman in the history, who broke every norm there was and left a blues legacy that still lives.

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, known as the Mother of Blues, was the most popular professional blues singer/songwriter of the 1920s. She is considered to be the first woman to introduce blues into her performances. Also, Ma Rainey was one of the first generation of blues singers to record. (4.1)

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).

Where does Rainey Get The Title Of ‘Ma’

Source = Klik

In 1902 she married the song and dance man William "Pa" Rainey and from then on came to be known as Ma Rainey. The couple formed a song and dance act that included Blues and popular songs. They toured the country, but primarily the South and became a popular attraction as part of Tolliver's Circus, The Musical Extravaganza and The Rabbit Foot Minstrels.

Signature Moaning Style Singing Of Ma

(Video Credits: RagtimeDorianHenry)

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".

Her Collaborations

Source = Amazonaws

  • Ma Rainey and her Georgia Jazz Band
  • Ma Rainey and Papa Charlie Jackson
  • Ma Rainey accompanied by Lovie Austin and her Blues Serenaders
  • Ma Rainey accompanied by The Pruitt Twins
  • Ma Rainey and her Tub Jug Washboard Band

‘Prove It On Me’ Was Ma’s Homosexual Confrontation

(Video Credits: lucymusicfan)

She was open about her sexuality as she talked about homosexuality in a 1928 song "Prove It on Me":

“They said I do it, ain't nobody caught me.
Sure got to prove it on me.
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends.
They must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men.”

Demise Of Blues

Source = Publicbroadcasting

As a single woman, she established her own entertainment company in 1917 and after a successful career in vaudeville managed theaters in her home state of Georgia. 

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, in Rome, Georgia.

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