Ma Rainey, the Mother of the Blues, was the premier star of the first American blues craze of the 1920s. Although she didn’t exclusively sing blues songs, her renditions of blues classics became one of the cornerstones of the music and an influence on Bessie Smith, another blues pioneer.
Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett Rainey was born in Columbus, Georgia, and was singing professionally by the age of 14. She joined the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in 1900. She allegedly heard another woman singer delivering a sad African American folk song about her unfaithful lover while on tour. Rainey learned the song and when she sang it on stage, crowds went crazy. She claims that she started calling this song “The... Read More