Ma Rainey

American blues singer (1886–1939) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Gertrude "Ma" Rainey (née Pridgett; April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939)[1][2][3] was an American blues singer and influential early blues recording artist.[4] Dubbed the "Mother of the Blues", she bridged earlier vaudeville and the authentic expression of southern blues, influencing a generation of blues singers.[5] Rainey was known for her powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a "moaning" style of singing. Her qualities are present and most evident in her early recordings "Bo-Weevil Blues" and "Moonshine Blues".

Quick facts: Ma Rainey, Background information, Birth name...
Ma Rainey
Rainey in 1917
Rainey in 1917
Background information
Birth nameGertrude Pridgett
Born(1886-04-26)April 26, 1886
Columbus, Georgia, U.S.
DiedDecember 22, 1939(1939-12-22) (aged 53)
Columbus, Georgia, U.S.
Years active1899–1939

Gertrude Pridgett began performing as a teenager and became known as "Ma" Rainey after her marriage to Will "Pa" 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 following five years, she made over 100 recordings, including "Bo-Weevil Blues" (1923), "Moonshine Blues" (1923), "See See Rider Blues" (1925), the blues standard "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (1927), and "Soon This Morning" (1927).[6]

Rainey also collaborated with Thomas Dorsey, Tampa Red, and Louis Armstrong, and toured and recorded with the Georgia Jazz Band. Touring until 1935, she then largely retired from performing and continued as a theater impresario in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia, until her death four years later.[1] She has been posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rainey has been portrayed in several films including the 2020 Academy Award-winning film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. In 2023, she was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.