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Rainey, Ma

Ma Rainey

Singer

For the Record

Discovered by Paramount Records

Madam Rainey, A Reigning Blues Queen

The Wild Cats Jazz Band

Retired from the Music Business

Selected discography

Sources

The first popular stage performer to incorporate au thentic blues in her song repertoire, Ma Gertrude Rainey emerged, during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Known as the Mother of the Blues Rainey enjoyed mass popularity during the women blues singer craze of the 1920s. Described by African American poet Sterling Brown in Black Culture and Black Consciousness, as a person of the folk, Rainey recorded in various musical settings, and made a number of sides which exhibited the influence of authentic rural blues.

Ma Rainey was born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus Georgiaon April 26, 1886 to minstrel troupersThomas Pridgett Sr. and Ella AllenPridgett. She worked at the Springer Opera House in 1900, performing as a singer and dancer in the local talent show, A Bunch of Blackberries. On February 2, 1904, Pridgett married comedy songster William Pa Rainey. Billed as Ma and Pa Rainey the couple toured Southern tent shows and cabarets. Though she did not hear blues in Columbus, Raineys extensive travels had, by 1905, brought her into contact with authentic country blues, which she worked into her song repertoire. Her ability to capture the mood and essence of black rural southern life, noted Daphane Harrison in Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920s, quickly endeared her to throngs of followers throughout the South.

While performing with The Moses Stokes troupe in 1912, the Raineys were introduced to the shows newly recruited dancer, Bessie Smith. Eight years Smiths senior, Rainey quickly befriended the young performer. Despite earlier historical accounts crediting Rainey as Smiths vocal coach, it has been generally agreed by modern scholars that Rainey played less of a role in the shaping of Smiths singing style. Ma Rainey probably did pass some of her singing experience on to Bessie, explained Chris Albertson in the liner notes to Giants Of Jazz, Bessie Smith, but the instruction must have been rudimentary. Though they shared an extraordinary command of the idiom, the two women delivered their messages in styles and voices that were dissimilar and manifestly personal.

Around, 1915 the Raineys toured with Fat Chappelles Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Afterward, they were billed as the Assassinators of the Blues with Tollivers Circus and Musical Extravaganza. Separated from her husband in 1916, Rainey subsequently toured with her own band, Madam Gertrude Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Smart Sets, featuring a chorus line and a five piece band. She also performed with other such entertainment organizations as Florida Cotton Blossoms Show, and Donald McGregors Carnival Show.

For the Record

Born: Gertrude Pridgett, April 26, 1886, in Columbus, Georgia; died December 22, 1939 in rome, Georgia; daughter of Thomas Priggett and Ella Allen (minstrel troupers); married William Pa Rainey (comedy performer) February 2, 1904.

Performed in local stage show 1900; toured South with husband William Pa Rainey 1904; member of Fat Chappelles Rabbit Foot Minstrels; from the 1910s to the 1920s performed at various venues and concert halls in the south and midwest with shows that included Tollivers Circus and Silas Green from New Orleans minstrel show; made recording debut for Paramount label in 1923; toured with own group Georgia Wild Cats Jazz Band 1924-1926; recorded with various sideman for Paramount until 1928; worked with revue show, Bandanna Babies, 1930; worked with Al Gaines Carnival Show 1933-1935. retired from music in 1935 and became theater owner.

Discovered by Paramount Records

Through the intercession of Mayo Ink Williams, Rainey first recorded for the Paramount label in 1923 (three years following the first blues side recorded by Mamie Smith). Already a popular singer in the Southern theater circuit, Rainey entered the recording industry as an experienced and stylistically mature talent. Her first session, cut with Austin and Her Blue Serenaders, featured the traditional number Bo-Weevil Blues. Fellow blues singer, Victoria Spivey, later said of the recording, as quoted in The Devils Music, Aint nobody in the world been able to holler Hey Boweevil like her. Not like Ma. Nobody. 1923 also saw the release of Raineys side Moonshine Blues, with Lovie Austin, and Yonder Comes the Blues with Louis Armstrong. That same year, Rainey recorded See See Rider, a number that, as Arnold Shaw observed in Black Popular Music in America, emerged as one of the famous and recorded of all blues songs. [Raineys] was the first recording of that song, giving her a hold on the copyright, and one of the best of the more than 100 versions.

In August 1924 Raineyalong with the twelve string guitar of Miles Pruitt (and unknown second guitar accompanist)recorded the eight bar blues number Shave Em Dry. In the liner notes to The Blues, folklorist W.K. McNeil observed that the number is typical of Raineys output, a driving, unornamated vocal propelled along by an accompanist who plays the number straight. Her artistry brings life to what in lesser hands would be a dull, elementary piece.

Madam Rainey, A Reigning Blues Queen

Unlike many other blues musicians, Rainey earned a reputation as a professional on stage and in business. According to Mayo Williams, as quoted in the liner notes to Ma Raineys Black Bottom, Ma Rainey was a shrewd business woman. We never tried to put any swindles on her. During Raineys five-year recording career at Paramount she cut nearly ninety sides, most of which dealt with the subjects of love and sexualitybawdy themes that often earned her the billing of Madam Rainey. As William Barlow explained, in Looking Up at Down, her songs were also diverse, yet deeply rooted in day-today experiences of black people from the South. Ma Raineys blues were simple, straightforward stories about heart break, promiscuity, drinking binges, the odyssey of travel, the workplace and the prison road gang, magic and superstitionin short, the southern landscapeof African Americans in the Post-Reconstruction era.

The Wild Cats Jazz Band

With the success of her early recordings, Rainey took part in a Paramount promotional tour which featured a newly assembled back-up band. In 1924 pianist and arranger Thomas A. Dorsey (one of later founders of gospel music) recruited members for Raineys touring band, The Wild Cats Jazz Band. Serving as both director and manager, Dorsey assembled able musicians who could read arrangements as well play in a down home blues style. Raineys tour debut at Chicagos Grand Theater on State Street marked the first appearance of a down home blues artist atthe famous southside venue. Draped in long gowns and covered in diamonds and a necklace of gold pieces, Rainey had a powerful command over her audiences. She often opened her stage show singing Moonshine Blues inside the cabinet of an over-sized victrola, from which she emerged to a greet a near-frantic audience. As Dorsey recalled, in The Rise of Gospel Blues, When she started singing, the gold in her teeth would sparkle. She was in the spotlight. She possessed listeners; they swayed, they rocked, they moaned and groaned, as they felt the blues with her.

Until 1926, Rainey performed with her Wild Jazz Cats on theTheater Owners Booking Association circuit (TOBA). That year, after Dorsey left the band, she recorded with various musicians on the Paramount labeloften under the name of Ma Rainey and her Georgia Jazz Band which, on various occasions, included musicians such as pianists Fletcher Henderson, Claude Hopkins, and Willie the Lion Smith, reed players Don Redman, Buster Bailey and Coleman Hawkins, and trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Tommy Ladnier. In 1927 Rainey cut sides such as Black Cat, Hoot Owl Blues with the Tub Jug Washboard Band. During her last sessions, held in 1928, she sang in the company of her former pianist Thomas Georgia Tom Dorsey and guitarist Hudson Tampa Red Whittaker, producing such numbers as Black Eye Blues, Runaway Blues and Sleep Talking Blues. As Bruce Cook noted in Listen to the Blues, these numbers are as good as anything she ever recorded. Her voice is rich and full; she really sounds like the Mother of the Blues.

Retired from the Music Business

Though the TOBA and vaudeville circuits had gone into decline by the early 1930s, Rainey still performed, often resorting to playing tent shows. Following the death of her mother and sister, Rainey retired from the music business in 1935 and settled in Columbus. For the next several years, she devoted her time as the owner of two entertainment venuesthe Lyric Theater and the Air-domeas well as activities in the Friendship Baptist Church. Rainey died in Rome, Georgiasome sources cite Columbuson December 22, 1939.

A great contributor to Americas rich blues tradition, Raineys music has served as inspiration for African American poets such as Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, the latter of whom paid tribute to the majestic singer in the poem Ma Rainey, which appeared in his 1932 collection Southern Road. More recently, Alice Walker looked to Ma Raineys music as a cultural model of African American womanhood when she wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple. In Black Pearls, Daphane Harrison praised Rainey as the first great blues stage singer: The good-humored, rollicking Rainey loved life, loved love, and most of all loved her people. Her voice bursts forth with a hearty declaration of courage and determinationa reaffirmation of black life.

Selected discography

Gertrude Ma RaineyCompleteMasterTakes Vol. 1:1923-24, King Jazz.

Gertrude Ma RaineyComplete Master Takes Vol. 2: 1924-1926, King Jazz.

Gertrude Ma RaineyComplete Master Takes Vol. 3: 1926-1927, King Jazz.

Gertrude Ma RaineyComplete Master Takes Vol. 4: 1927-1928, King Jazz.

The Immortal Ma Rainey, Roman Record Company.

Ma Raineys Black Bottom, Yazoo, 1991.

Sources

Barlow, William, Looking Up at Down: The Emergence of Blues Culture, Temple University Press, pp. 155-164.

Cook, Bruce, Listen to the Blues, Da Capo, p. 189.

Harris, Michael W., The Rise of Gospel Blues: The Music of Thomas Dorsey in the Urban Church, p.86-95..

Harrison, Daphane Duval. Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920s. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, p. 34-41.

Levine, Lawrence W., Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Thought From Slavery to Freedom, Oxford University Press, p. 232.

Oakley, Giles, The Devils Music: A History of the Blues, Tappinger.

Shaw, Arnold, Black Popular Music in America, Schirmer Books, p. 100-101.

Additional information for this profile was also obtained from the liner notes to Jazz Giants, Bessie Smith, Time Life (1982), written by Chris Albertson, Ma Raineys Black Bottom, Yazoo(1992), written by Steve Calt.

John Cohassey

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Rainey, Ma 1886–1939

Ma Rainey 18861939

Blues singer

At a Glance

Selected discography

Sources

Ma Rainey was one of the most significant female blues singers to have emerged from the south during the 1920s. Often referred to as The Black Nightingale and the Songbird of the South, she mostly came to be known as the Mother of the Blues. Music historians often identify Rainey as a classic blues singer but her roots laid solidly in the raw style of southern country blues that evolved out of the traveling minstrel and vaudeville shows popular in the south at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. Some music historians also consider Ma Rainey as the link between the male- dominated country blues that originated in the south and the female-dominated urban blues that developed in the north. Her style of blues can be heard in later blues and gospel singers such as Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, and Mahalia Jackson. Her best known songs include See See Rider (CC Rider),Jelly Bean Blues, and Boll Weevil Blues.

Born on April 29, 1886 in Columbus, Georgia, Gertrude Melissa Nix Pridgett was the second of five children born to Thomas and Ella (Allen) Pridgett, who were minstrel and vaudeville performers. Gertrude was used to the traveling and performing life and made her first solo performance in 1900 at a talent show in her hometown, at the Springer Opera House. A couple of years later, in 1902, when the family was in St. Louis, Gertrude heard for the first time, a woman sing the blues. Touched by the emotional content, attracted to the largely melancholic, improvisational elements of theblues, as well as to the unique structure of the music, from then on Gertrude herself began singing the blues, and has been credited as the first woman to have incorporated this style of singing into the vaudeville tradition.

In 1904 Gertrude married William Pa Rainey, a minstrel song and dance man. She adopted the name Ma Rainey, and together they toured the south. The pair were billed as Rainey & Rainey or Ma & Pa Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues, and performed with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels where they befriended a young Bessie Smith. Ma & Pa Rainey also were part of Tollivers Circus and Musical Extravaganza and various other tent shows and black variety shows. Essentially, Ma Rainey adopted the blues as her own, and was instrumental in popularizing the blues style. Her blues described woeful tales, a wide variety of love tales, humorous situations, and tales of endurance. When

At a Glance

Born Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett on April 26, 1886, in Columbus, Georgia; daughter of Thomas Pridgett and Ella Allen; married William Pa Rainey (comedy performer), February 2, 1904; died on December 22, 1939, in Rome, Georgia.

Career: Performed in local stage show, 1900; toured South with husband William Pa Rainey, 1904; member of Fat Chappelles Rabbit Foot Minstrels; performed at various tent shows and variety shows including Tollivers Circus and Silas Green from New Orleans minstrel show; made recording debut for Paramount label, 1923; recorded with various sideman for Paramount, until 1928; worked with revue show, Bandanna Babies, 1930; retired from music, 1935; became theater owner and manager.

Awards: Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, inducted, 1983; Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, inducted, 1990.

Rainey came to town, the people went wild and lined up to see her. After Ma and Pas marriage broke up, Ma continued on her own, further developing her characteristic style. Her voice was a deep contralto, at times raspy, and she sang with a jug bandkazoos, jugs, banjos, and perhaps a musical saw.

In the early 1920s Rainey was a featured performer with the TOBA (Theater Owners Booking Association), an organization that was instrumental in promoting black artists. In 1923, at the age of 37, she signed a recording contract with Paramount. By this time Rainey had been performing for about 25 years and had already earned, on her own, the billing that Paramount gave her: Discovered At Last, Mother of the Blues. Although Rainey was extremely popular in the south, until she began recording with Paramount, she was virtually unknown in the north. As the public acquired phonographs and radios, more people heard Rainey. She traveled north, performing in large theaters in Detroit, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, and for a time, billed herself as Madame Rainey. She was also billed as the Paramount Wildcat and after becoming famous, Rainey displayed her wealth in the form of a necklace made of gold coins and was sometimes referred to as Gold Necklace Woman of the Blues.

Raineys recording career ended early in 1928. During the six years that she was under contract to Paramount she recorded about 100 songs. In addition, due to Raineys success, Paramount evolved from a small recording business that was a subsidiary of a furniture company to a major recording label. While recording for Paramount, Rainey worked with a more sophisticated jazz band and collaborated with several well-known blues artists, such as Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, and Louis Armstrong. She also collaborated with the Rev. Thomas Dorsey, the godfather of gospel music, who at one time was known as Georgia Tom.

During the 1920s Raineys only serious rival was Bessie Smith, although Ida Cox and Sippie Wallace were also considered to be close contenders. Although each of these female blues artists was unique, they were constantly compared with each other because of their similar background and down-home, gutsy, and raw singing style. Aside from her driving blues style, Raineys brand of distinction lay with the fact that she was very outspoken on womens issues and served as a role model for other African-American female performers, urging them to become economically independent. It is also interesting to note that both Rainey and Smith arranged their own music, composed, and managed their own bands. At the height of Raineys career, she was making around $2,000 a week, which was a considerable sum of money at that time.

Not regarded as a particularly physically attractive woman, Rainey compensated with her wardrobe and her seductive demeanor, wearing bright, flashy sequined gowns and feathered headdresses. Even more provocative was the fact that she openly admitted to being bisexual. Once, in 1925, Rainey was arrested and spent a night in jail in Chicago for throwing an indecent party. The party was so noisy that neighbors called the police, who arrived to a room full of naked women engaged in intimate situations. For the promotion of the song, Prove It On Me, recorded in 1928, Ma was featured flirting with two women and was wearing a mans suit. The lyrics reflect her openly bisexual feelings: Went out last night with a crowd of my friends/They must have been women, cause I dont like no men.

Raineys career was greatly affected during the Depression. In 1935 she retired from the business and returned to Columbus, Georgia, where she lived with her brother, Thomas Pridgett, a deacon at the Friendship Baptist Church. With money that she had earned during her career, Rainey built and operated two theaters in Georgia: the Lyric Theater in Rome, and the Airdome Theater in Columbus. During her life, Rainey was a foster mother to seven children. The Mother of the Blues died of a heart attack on December 22, 1939. She was buried in a family plot in the Porterdale Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia. Rainey was inducted into the Blues Foundations Hall of Fame in 1983 and into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1994, the United States also featured Rainey on a postage stamp. Those who want to experience a slice of Raineys life can see August Wilsons play, Ma Raineys Blackbottom, which made it to Broadway in the 1980s.

Selected discography

Mother of the Blues, Dutch Fontana, 1965.

The Immortal Ma Rainey, Milestone, 1967.

Ma Raineys Black Bottom, Riverside, 1975.

Black Bottom, Yazoo, 1990.

Complete Recorded Works: 1928 Sessions, Document, 1994.

Sources

Books

Davis, Angela Y. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday, Pantheon, 1988.

Harrison, Daphne Duval. Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920s. Rutgers University Press, 1988.

Lieb, Sandra R. Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey. University of Massachusetts Press, 1981.

Stewart-Baxter, Derrick. Ma Rainey and the Classic Blues Singers. Stein and Day, 1970.

On-line

http://www.blueflamecafe.com/Ma_Rainey.html

http://www.blues.org/history/womenhistory.marainey.html

http://www.eyeneer.com/America/Genre/Blues/Profiles/ma.rainey.html

http://www.gawomen.org/honorees/long/raineyg_long.htm

http://www.lambda.net/[]maximum/rainey.html

http://library.thinkquest.org/10320/Rainey.htm

http:///.lclark.edu/[]cowan/marainey.htm

Christine Miner Minderovic

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Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey

The first popular stage entertainer to incorporate authentic blues in her song repertoire, Ma Rainey (1886-1939) performed during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Known as the "Mother of the Blues," she enjoyed mass popularity during the blues craze of the 1920s. Described by African American poet Sterling Brown in Black Culture and Black Consciousness as "a person of the folk," Rainey recorded in various musical settings and exhibited the influence of genuine rural blues.

Ma Rainey was born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus, Georgia, on April 26, 1886, to minstrel troupers-Thomas Pridgett, Sr. and Ella Allen-Pridgett. Rainey worked at the Springer Opera House in 1900, performing as a singer and dancer in the local talent show, "A Bunch of Blackberries." On February 2, 1904, Pridgett married comedy songster William "Pa" Rainey. Billed as "Ma" and "Pa" Rainey the couple toured Southern tent shows and cabarets. Though she did not hear blues in Columbus, Rainey's extensive travels had, by 1905, brought her into contact with authentic country blues, which she worked into her song repertoire. "Her ability to capture the mood and essence of black rural southern life of the 1920s," noted Daphane Harrison in Black Pearls: Blues Queens "quickly endeared her to throngs of followers throughout the South."

Met Bessie Smith

While performing with the Moses Stokes troupe in 1912, the Raineys were introduced to the show's newly recruited dancer, Bessie Smith. Eight years Smith's senior, Rainey quickly befriended the young performer. Despite earlier historical accounts crediting Rainey as Smith's vocal coach, it has been generally agreed by modern scholars that Rainey played less of a role in the shaping of Smith's singing style. "Ma Rainey probably did pass some of her singing experience on to Bessie," explained Chris Albertson in the liner notes to Giants of Jazz, "but the instruction must have been rudimentary. Though they shared an extraordinary command of the idiom, the two women delivered their messages in styles and voices that were dissimilar and manifestly personal."

Around 1915, the Raineys toured with Fat Chappelle's Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Afterward, they were billed as the "Assassinators of the Blues" with Tolliver's Circus and Musical Extravaganza. Separated from her husband in 1916, Rainey subsequently toured with her own band, Madam Gertrude Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Smart Sets, featuring a chorus line and a Cotton Blossoms Show, and Donald McGregor's Carnival Show.

Entered Recording Industry

With the help of Mayo "Ink" Williams, Rainey first recorded for the Paramount label in 1923 (three years after the first blues side recorded by Mamie Smith). Already a popular singer in the Southern theater circuit, Rainey entered the recording industry as an experienced and stylistically mature talent. Her first session, cut with Austin and Her Blue Serenaders, featured the traditional number "Bo-Weevil Blues". Fellow blues singer, Victoria Spivey, later said of the recording, as quoted in The Devil's Music, "Ain't nobody in the world been able to holler 'Hey Boweevil' like her. Not like Ma. Nobody." 1923 also saw the release of Rainey's side "Moonshine Blues," with Lovie Austin, and "Yonder Comes the Blues" with Louis Armstrong. That same year, Rainey recorded "See See Rider," a number that, as Arnold Shaw observed in Black Popular Music in America, emerged as "one of the most famous and recorded of all blues songs. [Rainey's] was the first recording of that song, giving her a hold on the copyright, and one of the best of the more than 100 versions."

In August 1924, Rainey-along with the twelve string guitar of Miles Pruitt and an unknown second guitar accompanist-recorded the eight bar blues number "Shave 'Em Dry." In the liner notes to The Blues, folklorist W.K. McNeil observed that the number "is typical of Rainey's output, a driving, unornamated vocal propelled along by an accompanist who plays the number straight. Her artistry brings life to what in lesser hands would be a dull, elementary piece."

A Shrewd Businesswoman

Unlike many other blues musicians, Rainey earned a reputation as a professional on stage and in business. According to Mayo Williams, as quoted in the liner notes to Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, "Ma Rainey was a shrewd business woman. We never tried to put any swindles on her. During Rainey's five-year recording career at Paramount she cut nearly ninety sides, most of which dealt with the subjects of love and sexuality-bawdy themes that often earned her the billing of "Madam Rainey." As William Barlow explained, in Looking Up at Down, her songs were also "diverse, yet deeply rooted in day-to-day experiences of black people from the South. Ma Rainey's blues were simple, straightforward stories about heart break, promiscuity, drinking binges, the odyssey of travel, the workplace and the prison road gang, magic and superstition-in short, the southern landscape of African Americans in the Post-Reconstruction era."

With the success of her early recordings, Rainey took part in a Paramount promotional tour which featured a newly assembled back-up band. In 1924, pianist and arranger Thomas A. Dorsey recruited members for Rainey's touring band, The Wild Cats Jazz Band. Serving as both director and manager, Dorsey assembled able musicians who could read arrangements as well as play in a down "home blues" style. Rainey's tour debut at Chicago's Grand Theater on State Street marked the first appearance of a "down home" blues artist at the famous southside venue. Draped in long gowns and covered in diamonds and a necklace of gold pieces, Rainey had a powerful command over her audiences. She often opened her stage show singing "Moonshine Blues" inside the cabinet of an over-sized victrola, from which she emerged to greet a near-frantic audience. As Dorsey recalled, in The Rise of Gospel Blues, "When she started singing, the gold in her teeth would sparkle. She was in the spotlight. She possessed listeners; they swayed, they rocked, they moaned and groaned, as they felt the blues with her."

Until 1926, Rainey performed with her Wild Jazz Cats on the Theater Owner's Booking Association circuit (TOBA). That year, after Dorsey left the band, she recorded with various musicians on the Paramount label-often under the name of Ma Rainey and her Georgia Jazz Band which, on various occasions, included musicians such as pianists Fletcher Henderson, Claude Hopkins, and Willie the Lion Smith, reed players Don Redman, Buster Bailey and Coleman Hawkins, and trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Tommy Ladnier. In 1927, Rainey cut sides such as "Black Cat, Hoot Owl Blues" with the Tub Jug Washboard Band. During her last sessions, held in 1928, she sang in the company of her former pianist Thomas "Georgia Tom" Dorsey and guitarist Hudson "Tampa Red" Whittaker, producing such numbers as "Black Eye Blues," "Runaway Blues" and "Sleep Talking Blues." As Bruce Cook noted in Listen to the Blues, these numbers "are as good as anything she ever recorded. Her voice is rich and full; she really sounds like the "Mother of the Blues."

Retirement

Though the TOBA and vaudeville circuits had gone into decline by the early 1930s, Rainey still performed, often resorting to playing tent shows. Following the death of her mother and sister, Rainey retired from the music business in 1935 and settled in Columbus. For the next several years, she devoted her time to the ownership of two entertainment venues-the Lyric Theater and the Airdome-as well as activities in the Friendship Baptist Church. Rainey died in Rome, Georgia-some sources say Columbus-on December 22, 1939.

A great contributor to America's rich blues tradition, Rainey's music has served as inspiration for African American poets such as Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, the latter of whom paid tribute to the majestic singer in the poem "Ma Rainey," which appeared in his 1932 collection Southern Road. More recently, Alice Walker looked to Ma Rainey's music as a cultural model of African American womanhood when she wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple. In Black Pearls, Daphane Harrison praised Rainey as the first great blues stage singer: "The good-humored, rollicking Rainey loved life, loved love, and most of all loved her people. Her voice bursts forth with a hearty declaration of courage and determination-a reaffirmation of black life."

Further Reading

Barlow, William, Looking Up at Down: The Emergence of Blues Culture, Temple University Press.

Cook, Bruce, Listen to the Blues, Da Capo.

Harris, Michael W., The Rise of Gospel Blues: The Music of Thomas Dorsey in the Urban Church.

Horrison, Daphane Duval. Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920s. Rutgers University Press.

Levine, Lawrence W., Black Culture and Black Consciousness:Afro-American Thought From Slavery to Freedom, Oxford University Press.

Oakley, Giles, The Devil's Music: A History of the Blues, Tappinger.

Shaw, Arnold, Black Popular Music in America, Schirmer Books. □

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"Ma Rainey." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Retrieved September 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404707441.html

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