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Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey wasn't the first blues singer to make records, but by all rights she probably should have been. In an era when women were the marquee names in blues, Rainey was once the most celebrated of all; the "Mother of the Blues" had been singing the music for more than 20 years before she made her recording debut (Paramount, 1923). With the advent of blues records, she became even more influential, immortalizing such songs as "See See Rider," "Bo-Weavil Blues," and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." Like the other classic blues divas, she had a repertoire of pop and minstrel songs as well as blues, but she maintained a heavier, tougher vocal delivery than the cabaret blues singers who followed. Rainey's records featured her with jug bands, guitar duos, and bluesmen such as Tampa Red and Blind Blake, in addition to the more customary horns-and-piano jazz-band accompaniment (occasionally including such luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, and Fletcher Henderson).

Born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, Ma Rainey (born Gertrude Pridgett) began singing professionally when she was a teenager, performing with a number of minstrel and medicine shows. In 1904, she married William "Pa" Rainey and she changed her name to "Ma" Rainey. The couple performed as "Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues" and toured throughout the south, performing with several minstrel shows, circuses, and tent shows. According to legend, she gave a young Bessie Smith vocal lessons during this time. By the early '20s, Rainey had become a featured performer on the Theater Owners' Booking Association circuit.

In 1923, Rainey signed a contract with Paramount Records. Although her recording career lasted only a mere six years -- her final sessions were in 1928 -- she recorded over 100 songs and many of them, including "C.C. Rider" and "Bo Weavil Blues," became genuine blues classics. During these sessions, she was supported by some of the most talented blues and jazz musicians of her era, including Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins, Buster Bailey, and Lovie Austin.

Rainey's recordings and performances were extremely popular among black audiences, particularly in the south. After reaching the height of her popularity in the late '20s, Rainey's career faded away by the early '30s as female blues singing became less popular with the blues audience. She retired from performing in 1933, settling down in her hometown of Columbus. In 1939, Rainey died of a heart attack. She left behind an immense recorded legacy, which continued to move and influence successive generations of blues, country, and rock & roll musicians. In 1983, Rainey was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame; seven years later, she was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. ~ Jim O'Neal & Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Nobody Rocks Me Like My Baby Do

1. Nobody Rocks Me Like My Baby Do

2. T.B. Blues

3. Rules & Regulations

4. Leaving' This Morning

5. Rough & Tumble Blues

6. Crazy Blues

7. Tough Luck Blues

8. Sweet Rough Man

9. I've Got What It Takes

10. Runaway Blues

11. Hot Springs Blues

12. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Blues

13. Cravin` A Man Blues

14. Blame It On The Blues

15. Fire And Thunder Blues

16. Let's Get It Straight

17. Daddy Goodbye Blues

18. Hard Time Blues

19. Jelly, Jelly Look What You Done

20. Black Hearse Blues

21. Peddlin’ Man

x

Track List: For All The Blues

1. Jelly Bean Blues

2. Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues

3. Chain Gang Blues

4. Trust No Man

5. Slave To The Blues

6. Mountain Jack Blues

7. Wringin' And Twistin' Blues

8. Deep Moanin' Blues

9. Bessemer Bound Blues

10. New Bo Weavil Blues

11. Victim Of The Blues

12. Countin' The Blues

13. Jealous Hearted Blues

14. Slow Driving Moan

15. See See Rider Blues

16. Oh Papa Blues

17. Prove It On Me Blues

18. Dead Drunk Blues

19. Blues Oh Blues

20. Gone Daddy Blues

21. Moonshine Blues

22. Morning Hour Blues

23. Hear Me Talking To You

24. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

x

Track List: An Introduction To Ma Rainey

1. Shave 'Em Dry Blues

2. Booze And Blues

3. Toad Frog Blues

4. See See Rider Blues

5. Countin' The Blues

6. Army Camp Harmony Blues

7. Deep Moaning Blues

8. Louisiana Hoo Doo Blues

9. Stormy Sea Blues

10. Night Time Blues

11. Black Eye Blues

12. Bo Weavil Blues, Take 1

13. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

14. Honey, Where You Been So Long?

15. Lost Wandering Blues

16. Those Dogs Of Mine

17. Lucky Rock Blues

18. Southbound Blues

19. Lawd Send Me A Blues

20. Farewell Daddy Blues

x

Track List: Vol. 4 (1926-1927)

1. Morning Hour Blues

2. Weepin' Woman Blues

3. Soon This Morning

4. Little Low Mama Blues

5. Grievin Hearted Blues

6. Don't Fish In My Sea

7. Big Boy Blues

8. Blues Oh Blues

9. Damper Down Blues

10. Gone Daddy Blues

11. Oh Papa Blues

12. Misery Blues

13. Dead Drunk Blues

14. Slow Driving Moan

15. Blues The Word Forgot-Part 1

16. 'Ma' Rainey's Black Bottom

17. Blues The Word Forgot-Part 2

18. Hellish Rag

19. Georgia Cake Walk

20. New Bo-Weavil Blues

21. Moonshine Blues

22. Ice Bag Papa

x

Track List: Vol. 2 (1924-1925)

1. Booze And Blues

2. Toad Frog Blues

3. Jealous Hearted Blues

4. See See Rider Blues (Take 1)

5. See See Rider Blues (Take 2)

6. Jelly Bean Blues

7. Countin' The Blues (Take 2)

8. Countin' The Blues (Take 3)

9. Cell Bound Blues

10. Army Camp Harmony Blues (Take 1)

11. Army Camp Harmony Blues (Take 2)

12. Explaining The Blues (Take 1)

13. Explaining The blues (Take 2)

14. Louisiana Hoo Doo Blues

15. Goodbye Daddy Blues

16. Stormy Sea Blues

17. Rough And Tumble Blues

18. Night Time Blues (Take 1)

19. Night Time Blues (Take 2)

20. Levee Camp Moan

21. Four Day Honory Seat (Take 1)

22. Four Day Honory Seat (Take 2)

23. Memphis Bound Blues

x

Track List: Ma Rainey Vol. 3 (1925-1926)

1. Slave To The Blues

2. Yonder Come The Blues

3. Titanic Man Blues (Take 1)

4. Titanic Man Blues (Take 2)

5. Chain Gang Blues

6. Bessemer Bound Blues (Take 1)

7. Bessemer Bound Blues (Take 2)

8. Oh My Babe Blues

9. Wringing And Twisting Blues

10. Stack O'Lee Blues

11. Broken Hearted Blues

12. Jealousy Blues

13. Seeking Blues (Take 1)

14. Seeking Blues (Take 2)

15. Mountain Jack Blues (Take 1)

16. Mountain Jack Blues (Take 3)

17. Down In The Basement

18. Sissy Blues

19. Broken Soul Blues

20. Trust No More

x

Track List: Ma Rainey (1928)

1. Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues

2. Log Camp Blues

3. Hear Me Talking To You

4. Hustlin' Blues

5. Prove It On Me Blues

6. Victim Of The Blues

7. Traveling Blues

8. Deep Moaning Blues (Take 1)

9. Deep Moaning Blues (Take 2)

10. Daddy Goodbye Blues

11. Sleep Talking Blues (Take 1)

12. Sleep Talking Blues (Take 2)

13. Tough Luck Blues

14. Blame It On The Blues

15. Sweet Rough Man

16. Runaway Blues

17. Screech Owl Blues

18. Black Dust Blues

19. Leaving This Morning

20. Black Eye Blues (Take 1)

21. Black Eye Blues (Take 2)

22. Ma And Pa Poorhouse Blues

23. Big Feeling Blues

x

Track List: Ma Rainey

1. Jealous Hearted Blues

2. See See The Rider Blues

3. Jelly Bean Blues

4. Countin' The Blues

5. Slave To The Blues

6. Chain Gang Blues

7. Bessemer Bound Blues

8. Wringing And Twisting Blues

9. Mountain Jack Blues

10. Trust No Man

11. Morning Hour Blues

12. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

13. New Bo Weavil Blues

14. Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues

15. Hear Me Talking To You

16. Prove It On Me

17. Victim Of The Blues

18. Sleep Talking Blues

19. Blame It On The Blues

20. Daddy Goodbye Blues

21. Sweet Rough Man

22. Black Eye Blues

23. Leaving This Morning

24. Runaway Blues

x

Track List: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

1. Oh Papa Blues

2. Black Eye Blues (Take 1)

3. "Ma" Rainey's Black Bottom

4. Booze And Blues

5. Blues Oh Blues

6. Sleep Talking Blues (Take 1)

7. Lucky Rock Blues

8. Georgia Cake Walk

9. Don't Fish In My Sea

10. Stack O' Lee Blues

11. Shave 'Em Dry Blues

12. Yonder Come The Blues (Take 1)

13. Screech Owl Blues

14. Farewell Daddy Blues

x

Track List: Mother Of The Blues

Disc 1

1. Bad Luck Blues

2. Bo-Weavil Blues (Take 1)

3. Bo-Weavil Blues (Take 2)

4. Barrel House Blues

5. Those All Night Long Blues (Take 1)

6. Those All Night Long Blues (Take 2)

7. Moonshine Blues

8. Last Minute Blues

9. Southern Blues

10. Walking Blues

11. Lost Wandering Blues

12. Dream Blues

13. Honey Where You Been So Long?

15. Ya-Da-Do (Take 2)

16. Those Dogs Of Mine

17. Lucky Rock Blues

18. Southbound Blues

19. Lawd Send Me A Man Blues

20. Ma Rainey's Mystery Record

Disc 2

1. Shave 'em Dry Blues

2. Farewell Daddy Blues

3. Booze And Blues

4. Toad Frog Blues

5. Jealous Hearted Blues

6. See See Rider Blues (Take 1)

7. See See Rider Blues (Take 2)

8. Jelly Bean Blues

10. Countin' The Blues (Take 2)

11. Cell Bound Blues

12. Army Camp Harmony Blues (Take 1)

13. Army Camp Harmony Blues (Take 2)

14. Explaining The Blues (Take 1)

15. Explaining The Blues (Take 2)

16. Louisiana Hoo Doo Blues

17. Goodbye, Daddy Blues

18. Stormy Sea Blues

19. Rough And Tumble Blues

20. Night Time Blues (Take 1)

21. Night Time Blues (Take 2)

22. Levee Camp Moan

25. Memphis Bound Blues

Disc 3

1. Slave To The Blues

2. Yonder Comes The Blues

3. Titanic Man Blues (Take 1)

4. Titanic Man Blues (Take 2)

5. Chain Gang Blues

6. Bessemer Bound Blues (Take 1)

7. Bessemer Bound Blues (Take 2)

8. Oh My Babe Blues

9. Wringing And Twisting Blues

10. Stack O'Lee Blues

11. Broken Hearted Blues

12. Jealousy Blues

13. Seeking Blues (Take 1)

14. Seeking Blues (Take 2)

15. Mountain Jack Blues (Take 1)

16. Mountain Jack Blues (Take 3)

17. Down In The Basement

18. Sissy Blues

19. Broken Soul Blues

20. Trust No Man

Disc 4

1. Morning Hour Blues

2. Weeping Woman Blues

3. Soon This Morning

4. Little Low Mama Blues

5. Grievin' Hearted Blues

6. Don't Fish In My Sea

7. Big Boy Blues

8. Blues Oh Blues

9. Damper Down Blues

10. Gone Daddy Blues

11. Oh Papa Blues

12. Misery Blues

13. Dead Drunk Blues

14. Slow Driving Moan

16. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

18. Hellish Rag

19. Georgia Cake Walk

20. New Bo Weavil Blues

21. Moonshine Blues

22. Ice Bag Papa

Disc 5

1. Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues

2. Log Camp Blues

3. Hear Me Talking To You

4. Hustlin' Blues

5. Prove It To Me Blues

6. Victim Of The Blues

9. Deep Moaning Blues (Take 1)

10. Deep Moaning Blues (Take 2)

11. Daddy Goodbye Blues

12. Sleep Talking Blues (Take 1)

13. Sleep Talking Blues (Take 2)

14. Tough Luck Blues

15. Blame It On The Blues

16. Sweet Rough Man

17. Runaway Blues

18. Screech Owl Blues

19. Black Dust Blues

20. Leaving This Morning

21. Black Eye Blues (Take 1)

22. Black Eye Blues (Take 2)

23. Me & Pa Poorhouse Blues

24. Big Feeling Blues

Comments

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u can always still feel her spirit
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Such a deep voice and such truth in her singing and songs it does take you back to a simpler part of time
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Transports you into another era..
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Beautiful... .
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I don't like her.
Report as inappropriate
MA RAINEY, Takes you back down memory lane; Born in 1956 , Having the pleasure of listerning, dancing, and singing to MA music ;Gave you the feelings that you was living in the same household. Surprisingly , some children does have a attraction to Great, music, MA RAINEY you was a true solider fighting in the army. .
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MA ya sure did WAIL dem BLUES ah YEH
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love her deep and smooth vocals...hon e s t lyrics for sure, timeless
Report as inappropriate
kristykruger
yes, yes, yes!!!! Mother of the blues!
Report as inappropriate
love her
Report as inappropriate
sassyjan
fabulous

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