‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ has everyone abuzz. After all, the rich legacy of the legendary blues singer is one that is not going to be forgotten anytime soon. Born as Gertrude Pridgett in the late 1800s, Ma started working in black minstrel shows when she was just a teenager. In a couple of years, she shot to fame and even became one of the first African American singers to record songs in the 1920s. Today, there are a few platforms that host her music, and we’ve listed them below.
Ma Rainey’s Songs: Where to Listen to Them?
If you wish to familiarise yourself with more of Ma Rainey’s music, then we would suggest heading over to any of these platforms (as per your convenience). The first is Spotify, where you can find many of her albums and singles alike. They have also curated a playlist that contains her most popular and beloved tracks, which you can find here.
Alternatively, you can also traipse through Apple Music, where you will find a similar collection of her music throughout the years. To access both these platforms, you will need a subscription. (If you don’t have one, then you can also make use of their free trials). The same is the case with Tidal and Pandora.
If you’re still unsure about signing up for these services, then don’t worry. You can head on over to SoundCloud, which is a free platform that everyone can use. You can find Ma Rainey’s music here. Apart from this, you can always check out YouTube as well.
To understand the art is to understand the artist. But a little context never hurt anyone. Although Ma had been performing from a young age, at 18, she got married to William “Pa” Rainey, and the two later joined Rabbit’s Foot Company (an extremely popular minstrel show at the time). Following this, they started their own group, Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. But soon, the two separated and Ma continued doing what she did best.
As the popularity of the blues increased, so did her fame. In 1923, she was signed by Paramount Records producer, J. Mayo Williams. Ma went on to record more than 100 songs in just 5 years. Some of her most popular work includes “Bad Luck Blues,” “Bo-Weevil Blues,” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” In 1924, she even went on a tour of the Theater Owners Booking Association (TOBA) in the South and the Midwest. With her was the Wildcats Jazz Band, which had been compiled by Thomas Dorsey. Over the span of her illustrious career, Ma worked with some of the biggest names in the game. Not only did she collaborate with Louis Armstrong, but she was also the mentor of Bessie Smith, who was eventually dubbed the “Empress of the Blues.”
Unfortunately, by 1928, Ma’s particular style of music was no longer consumed by the masses. After all, the radio and music recordings proved to be quite entertaining. That year, her contract was canceled by the record label and she slowly fizzled out of the limelight. In the latter half of her life, she lived in Georgia and ran three theatres before succumbing to a heart attack in 1939.