Ma Rainey

“I can’t tell my future so I’m going to tell my past.”

  • Name: Ma Rainey
  • Born: April 26, 1886
  • Died: December 22, 1939
  • From: Columbus, GA, USA
  • Pronouns: She/her
  • Contribution/Impact: Ma Rainey is known for being “The Mother Of Blues.” She is the reason for the rising popularity and change in the structure of blues music both down south and up north. In addition to her musical success, her life was such a movement that there is a movie made in her honor that did extremely well. 
  • Occupation: Singer, Musician
  • Known For: inducted into the Blues Foundational Hall and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 
  • Awards: She was inducted into the Blues Foundational Hall and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 
  • Interesting Facts: The US Post Office made a commemorative coin in her honor. 

Ma Rainey, born Getrude Pridgett, started performing in her teens, and during this time she recorded well over 100 songs. She later married a singer who goes by the name Pa Rainey. For the sake of their musical duo and their marriage she changed her name to Ma Rainey. Even after her death, she had poems and movies made about her and her career that all did respectively well. On top of being a successful musician, Rainey was also a fashion icon, pioneering flashy, expensive costumes in her performances. Although most of Rainey’s songs that mention sexuality refer to love affairs with men, some of her lyrics contain references to lesbianism or bisexuality.

Handout

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