Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Today is the Birthdate of Ma Rainey

Today is the birthdate of Ma Rainey. She was born Columbus, Georgia on April 26, 1886. She wasn't the first female blues singer to make records, but by all rights she should have been.

She was on stage as early as 1900 (Encyclopedia of the Blues, Gerard Herzhaft). She was multitalented, she sang, danced and acted in a traveling vaudeville show. In 1904 she married the dancer William "Pa" Rainey and adopted the nickname of "Ma" Rainey.

Her show was a part of the Tolliver circus and the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. During this time she took a young Bessie Smith under her wing and gave her advice.

During her time women were the marquee names in blues music, and Ma Rainey was the most celebrated of them all. That is why she is often called the "Mother of the blues." She had been singing and performing for more than 20 years before she made her first recording for Paramount in 1923.

Some of the song for which she is know for are, "See See Rider," "Bo-Weavil Blues," and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." She had a tough vocal delivery and her music included jug bands, guitar dous, and she also played with bluesmen like Tampa Red and Blind Blake. She is also know as an early jazz singer for her work accompanying musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and Fletcher Henderson.

You can read all about her here, Ma Rainey @ Wikipedia

And if you would like to hear some of her music, consider the following;

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