Friday, May 21, 2010
Jango Song Of The Day-Ma Rainey
Song:Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Ma Rainey was one of the earliest professional blues singers and was known as Mother Of The Blues. Obviously she was a pioneer and was a very big influence on Bessie Smith. She was born Gertrude Pridgett Apr. 26, 1886 in Columbus, GA. She started performing in tent shows as a teenager and started singing the blues when she heard another girl singing at a tent show in Missouri. In 1904 she married performer William "Pa" Rainey and started calling herself Madame Gertrude Rainey and later Ma Rainey. They toured together with the Rabbit Foot Mistrels and were billed as Rainey & Rainey. They wintered in New Orleans and became friends with Louis Armstrong and other musicians. She also met Bessie Smith and they worked together and became friends. By the early 20s Ma Rainey had become a featured performer on the Theatre Owners Booking Association vaudeville circuit and this led to a contract with Paramount Records in 1923. She made over a hundred recordings between 1923-1928 and among the musicians she worked with were Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson and Coleman Hawkins. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is about a dance called the black bottom and like a lot of black songs of that era it was about sex too. There are several Ma Rainey comps available but this Milestone one is reasonably priced. Paramount was notorious for poor quality mastering but Milestone has cleaned them up well. By the late 20s, Ma Rainey's style of music was not popular anymore and vaudeville died so Paramount dropped her. She moved back to Columbus and owned two theatres until her death of a heart attack on Dec. 22, 1939 at age 53. Ma Rainey was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall Of Fame in 1983 and the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990. Obviously there is no film footage of Ma Rainey so here's a video of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by Ma Rainey. For some reason the video is six minutes long but the song is about three minutes long.