Rainey, Ma

orig. Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett

born April 26, 1886, Columbus, Ga., U.S.
died Dec. 22, 1939, Rome, Ga.

U.S. singer.

Rainey began touring Southern tent shows, levee camps, and cabarets at age 17 in a song-and-dance team with her husband, the minstrel comic William ("Pa") Rainey. She performed through the 1920s, leading her own troupes, including at times Bessie Smith and Thomas A. Dorsey. An earthy stage presence, known for her flamboyant dress and her deep, powerful contralto voice, Rainey recorded more than 90 songs (including "See See Rider" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom") from 1923 to 1928 with country blues musicians and black jazz players. She retired in 1933. The first great professional blues vocalist, she earned the sobriquet "mother of the blues."

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▪ American singer
byname of  Gertrude Malissa Nix Rainey , née  Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett 
born April 26, 1886, Columbus, Ga., U.S.
died Dec. 22, 1939, Rome, Ga.
 American singer, the “mother of the blues,” recognized as the first great black professional blues vocalist.

      Gertrude Pridgett made her first public appearance about the age of 14 in a local talent show called “Bunch of Blackberries” at the Springer Opera House in her native Columbus, Georgia. Little else is known of her early years. In February 1904 she married William Rainey, a vaudeville performer known as Pa Rainey, and for several years they toured with African American minstrel groups as a song-and-dance team. In 1902, in a small Missouri town, she first heard the sort of music that was to become known as the blues.

      Ma Rainey, as she was known, began singing blues songs and contributed greatly to the evolution of the form and to the growth of its popularity. In her travels she appeared with jazz and jug bands throughout the South. While with the Tolliver's Circus and Musical Extravaganza troupe, she exerted a direct influence on young Bessie Smith (Smith, Bessie). Her deep contralto voice, sometimes verging on harshness, was a powerful instrument by which to convey the pathos of her simple songs of everyday life and emotion.

      In 1923 Ma Rainey made her first phonograph recordings for the Paramount company. Over a five-year span she recorded some 92 songs for Paramount—such titles as “See See Rider,” “Prove It on Me,” “Blues Oh Blues,” “Sleep Talking,” “Oh Papa Blues,” “Trust No Man,” “Slave to the Blues,” “New Boweavil Blues,” and “Slow Driving Moan”—that later became the only permanent record of one of the most influential popular musical artists of her time. She continued to sing in public into the 1930s. In 2008 a small museum opened in a house she had built in Columbus for her mother; she lived there herself from 1935 until her death.

Additional Reading
Derrick Stewart-Baxter, Ma Rainey and the Classic Blues Singers (1970); Sandra R. Lieb, Mother of the Blues (1981); Angela Y. Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (1998).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rainey — is a surname and may refer to: * Charles Chuck Walter Rainey (III) * David Puck Rainey * Ford Rainey * Henry T(homas). Rainey * Jo(h)n Douglas Rainey, see It Takes a Thief (2005 TV series) * Joseph Hayne Rainey * Lawrence A. Rainey * Gertrude… …   Wikipedia

  • Rainey — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Barbara Allen Rainey (1948–1982, erste US amerikanische Marine Pilotin Chuck Rainey (* 1940), US amerikanischer Bassgitarrist Ford Rainey (1908–2005), US amerikanischer Schauspieler Frederick Rainey (*… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Rainey —   [ reɪnɪ], Ma, eigentlich Gertrude Melissa Nix Pridgett [ prɪdʒɪt], amerikanische Bluessängerin, * Columbus (Georgia) 26. 4. 1886, ✝ Rome (Georgia) 22. 12. 1939; trat um 1900 in den Südstaaten der USA in Minstrel Shows hervor und hatte nach… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Rainey —  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie des personnes (réelles ou fictives) partageant un même patronyme. Chuck Rainey (1940 ), musicien américain ; Ford Rainey (1908 2005), acteur américain ; Ma Rainey (1886 1939), chanteuse de blues… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Rainey, Ma — orig. Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett (26 abr. 1886, Columbus, Ga., EE.UU.–22 dic. 1939, Rome, Ga.). Cantante estadounidense. A los 17 años, Rainey comenzó a presentarse en espectáculos de tiendas, bares y cabarés como integrante de un equipo de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Rainey — Recorded in many forms including Rainy, Rainey, Rany, Raynie, Reany, Reaney, Rennie, Renny, Rennison, and Renison, this is a surname of complicated and confusing origins. It can be English, Anglo Irish, Irish, Anglo Scottish or Scottish, and with …   Surnames reference

  • Rainey — n. Gertrude Ma Rainey (1886 1939), American blues singer, wife and musical partner of William Pa Rainey …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Rainey — /ray nee/, n. 1. Gertrude ( Ma ), 1886 1939, U.S. blues singer. 2. Joseph Hayne /hayn/, 1832 87, U.S. politician: first black congressman 1870 79. * * * …   Universalium

  • Rainey — George, English anatomist, 1801–1884. See R. corpuscles, under corpuscle …   Medical dictionary

  • rainey's — rain·ey s …   English syllables

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