Ma Rainey’s Life and Reign as the Mother of the Blues


In 1904, Pridgett married a singer, comic and dancer named Will Rainey, and so they toured because the duo Ma and Pa Rainey. “Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues” performed frequently till the pair separated in 1916. Ma went solo, touring along with her personal tent present, Madam Gertrude Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Smart Set, which included a refrain line of female and male dancers. The touring troupe spent winters in New Orleans the place Ma mingled with the cream of jazz masters.

In 1923, she was signed to Paramount Records by Mayo “Ink” Williams, who was essentially the most profitable blues producer of his time, the primary Black producer at a significant label, and the one individual ever inducted into each the National Football Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame. Pianist Thomas A. Dorsey entered Rainey’s world in 1924. Dorsey, who would later go on to achieve fame as a gospel songwriter, was additionally her supervisor and musical arranger, very similar to the trombone participant Cutler (Colman Domingo) in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He noticed the expertise for Rainey’s touring ensemble, the Wild Cats Jazz Band. The musicians performed blues, but additionally carried out written sheet music to play modern jazz.

During Rainey’s five-year recording profession at Paramount, she recorded with a rotating crew of musicians in varied musical settings, however who all laid down real rural blues songs of heartbreak, betrayal, consuming, superstition, jail highway gangs, and arduous and simple loving. 

Rainey wrote or co-wrote a few third of the 92 songs she recorded for her label. With her sturdy voice, unapologetic lyrical sexuality, and onstage abandon, “the Paramount Wildcat” devoured modern ladies blues singers like Ida Cox and Sippie Wallace like appetizers. Ma wore that tag as proudly because the gold she adorned herself with after she grew to become well-known and have become the “Golden Necklace Woman of the Blues.” Her solely competitors was generally known as “The Empress of the Blues,” and it was a really pleasant rivalry.

Bessie Smith

Ma was performing with the Moses Stokes’ Traveling Show when she met Bessie Smith, the troupe’s new refrain woman dancer, in 1912. Ma was 26 and Bessie was 18. Chattanooga, Tennessee-born Bessie Smith had spent her childhood acting on avenue corners. Both her mother and father and a brother died by the point she was 9 years previous. Smith went on to be the very best paid African American performer of the “Roaring Twenties.” 

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