Ma Rainey – The Mother Of The Blues
Gertrude Pridgett, widely known as Ma Rainey, was an African-American professional Blues singer. She was one of the first singers to record songs in blues. She is often called the ‘mother of the blues’.
Ma Rainey was supposedly born on April 26, 1886, in Columbus, Georgia. Many sources later claimed that she was born in 1882 in Alabama. He had four siblings. During her teen years, he began performing and was called as Ma Rainey. She got married in 1904 to Will Rainey. She toured with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and they formed a band called Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues.
Rainey got her breakthrough in 1923. In the next five years, she had recorded more than 100 songs including Moonshine Blues, Black Bottom and Soon This Morning. Ma Rainey was popular for her strong vocals and energetic performances and imposing lyrical style. She also collaborated with Louis Armstrong and Georgia Jazz Band.
Later in life
Paramount terminated her contract in 1928 after live vaudeville went to decline and was replaced by radio and recordings. Her musical style was no longer considered fashionable but that didn’t impact her career too much. She actively toured all over the world until 1935 and later on retired from music and went to live in her hometown.
She ran three theaters there until her last days. Rainey died of a heart attack in 1939 when she was 52 years old in Rome, Georgia. She was introduced into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1983.
“White folks hear the blues come out, but they don’t know how it got there.”
“They hear it come out, but they don’t know how it got there. They don’t understand that’s life’s way of talking. You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ’cause that’s a way of understanding life.”