On this day in 1886, blues icon Ma Rainey was born

Collaborating with luminaries such as Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong, her influence extended far beyond her own recordings. Rainey's music inspired the likes of Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

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Gertrude Pridgett “Ma” Rainey (See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
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Blues icon Ma Rainey, originally Gertrude Pridgett, was born on April 26, 1886. She earned the title “Mother of the Blues” for her pioneering contributions to the genre. 

In 1904, she wed comedian William “Pa” Rainey, embarking on a joint tour across the Southern states. It was during these travels that she immersed herself in the blues scene, captivating audiences with her soulful performances as early as 1905. 

Ed Pollack, Albert Wynn, Thomas A. Dorsey, Ma Rainey, Dave Nelson, and Gabriel Washington in 1923. (Good Housekeeping, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

From 1923 to 1928, Rainey recorded over 100 tracks. Collaborating with luminaries such as Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong, her influence extended far beyond her own recordings. Rainey’s music inspired the likes of Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

Happy heavenly birthday, Ma Rainey.


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