Amoeblog

Saluting Women Artists of the Classic Blues Era

Posted by Billyjam, March 28, 2012 06:39pm | Post a Comment
In observance of the ongoing Amoeblog series honoring Women's History Month, this blog salutes women blues singers from the classic blues era. I will also post a second part celebrating women blues artists from later decades. But for now, I am focusing on the classic blues era of a century ago. It was a time when these women artists were pioneers by being both among the very first black singers and  blues artists to be recorded.

This first wave of recorded female blues was spearheaded by such American music legends as Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Mamie Smith (no relation to Bessie), and of course Ma Rainey.  Born in 1886, Ma Rainey earned the title “Mother of the Blues” for being instrumental in bringing the music to the public first. She is credited with both influencing all other female blues singers that came after her and with being the first to perform the blues on stage as popular entertainment. This she did when, at the turn of the century, she first incorporated blues into her broader vaudeville act that was built around comedy bits and show songs of the time. As legend has it Rainey would close every show with a song about a woman losing her man that she called “The Blues." Rainey, along with her husband Pa Rainey, is credited with discovering Bessie Smith on one of her early tours.

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Black [gay] History Month, 2012

Posted by Job O Brother, January 29, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment

Ethel Merman’s voice makes my stomach acids sour and the very idea of shopping for clothes gives me a panic attack; despite these and other suspicious facts, I am a member of the LGBT community. For this reason, the issue of equal rights is ever-present in my mind.

There’s been a lot written and said about comparing the history of intolerance between racial minorities and the gay community, most especially in late 2008 when Prop. 8 was passed in the state of California amidst reports that large numbers of black people, urged by their church heads, voted to end the briefly instituted marriage equality of the state.

There were, of course, many exceptions to this and I don’t mean to angle this as a blacks-versus-gays situation – it's far more complicated than anything I'll do justice to here – but it did shine a light on an issue that often ruffles feathers. Knowing my place here on the Amoeblog as “light entertainment,” I will eschew any prolonged essays on the matter (for great, long-winded crap like that you should check out Charles Reece’s blog), but I will say that equal rights for all people is not only a victimless proposition, it’s one that benefits all people. Whether you think it’s appropriate to compare the struggle for gay equality with those of racial minorities, the fact is that everyone should have the same basic, human rights.

It would be one thing if a child was struck with bone marrow cancer every time two lesbians kissed, but kids, that’s just not the way it is and the sooner we let the gays get married, the sooner they can set up homes that will raise the property value of your block.

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