When we think of them in relation to classic pop, we might think of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra or Judy Garland. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. "The Mother of the Blues" came first, but "The Empress of the Blues" took the music to new heights during her eventful and sadly curtailed life. Carousing and sexual adventure were not uncommon. Smith realized that she had an unusual voice and sang for money on street corners at an early age, accompanied on guitar by Andrew, her younger brother. } The myth that she died because she was refused aid at a white hospital is untrue, but the delay in getting her to any hospital quickly enough to treat her external and internal wounds resulted in her early death at age 43. Although Rainey mentored Smith, their careers had reached an equal footing by 1923, and soon the pupil would surpass the teacher. eventCategory: event.slot.getSlotElementId(), If you have an entertainment scoop or a story for us, please reach out to us on (323) 421-7515. Ma Rainey came to love the genre so much that she soon started performing blues songs. eventAction: 'click_adunit' In 2019, a piece in the New York Times aimed to set the record straight regarding her influence, claiming that fellow Blues pioneers Mamie Smith and Bessie Smith … These years also introduced her to Bessie Smith, who was just starting to make a name for herself. Achetez neuf ou d'occasion }); Her name was Ma Rainey, and during her lifetime, she was known as “The Mother of the Blues.”, Ma Rainey and her Georgia Jazz Band in 1923, Photo: JP Jazz Archive/Redferns/Getty Images. "Generally, Bessie would explore this other world when her marriage was at low ebb, which happened often enough. From the late 1910s into the ‘20s, Ma Rainey found tremendous success as demand for recorded black music was on the rise. Meanwhile, Smith's first record for Columbia, “Downhearted Blues,” was a smash hit that reportedly sold 800,000 copies. Rainey recorded for Paramount for five years and had many hits, some of which she wrote herself. The Real Bessie Smith Was Ma Rainey's Protégé Before Becoming Her 'Friendly Rival' Korin Miller 12/18/2020 Proud Boys-Linked Conspiracy Theorist Says 'Deep State' Behind Upcoming D.C. Violence Rainey liked the young Smith, and she tried to show her how to navigate the perilous waters of a show business life. Bessie Smith is often hailed as the Empress as the Blues. Even in the competitive world of the tent shows, Rainey stood out as a unique performer. hitType: 'event', },false) Bessie Smith died in an automobile accident on September 26, 1937 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Both Rainey and Smith were scooped up by record companies in the aftermath of this big hit. Ma Rainey, as most might know, was a pivotal inspiration behind Smith's music, but that's not all. Although Rainey’s achievements were more modest, Smith would go on to have great success during the rest of the 20s. Bessie started out as a street musician in Chattanooga. },false) C'est dans cette ville qu'elle fit sa première apparition sur scène, à l'âge de quatorze ans . pg.acq.push(function() { eventAction: 'click_ads' Danny joined their act as well. By the late ‘20s, her style of blues was no longer considered “current,” and her contracts with her record labels ended. } The History of the Blues: The Roots, the Music, the People from Charlie Patton to Robert Cray. Instead of starting a cat fight, Smith began to study the more experienced woman’s performances, and many people believe she learned her legendary stage presence from Rainey. Elle a chanté sa fierté d’être noire, bisexuelle, indépendante. Rainey, born Gertrude Pridgett, had also started her career early. Her performances thrilled audiences, putting her on the path to become one of the early blues greats. The woman who showed Smith the way was another giant in her field. Several of Rainey’s songs contained references to lesbian affairs, and although she was married for decades to Will, it is generally accepted that Rainey was as interested in women as she was in men. It can be said that Ma Rainey's bold persuasion of her own sexuality influenced Smith heavily, as the latter allegedly frequented 'buffet flats,' or "party houses (usually located in big cities) where all forms of sexual expression were permissible," shares Billboard. She carried an ostrich plume and had capped gold teeth that would flash when she sang. In 1912 Bessie joined a traveling show as a dancer and singer. ga('ads.send', { eventCategory: event.slot.getSlotElementId(), Although they crossed paths for a very short period early in their careers, Smith and Rainey became two of the most important figures in the burgeoning genre of the blues. Sad songs about mistreatment from lovers and the world at large, combined with exultant songs that delivered straight talk about drinking, mischief and sex, became popular with crowds. After signing Rainey to the label, she laid down her first blues recording in 1923, following the lead of Mamie Smith, noted as the first Black female artist to be recorded. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism Gertrude « Ma » Rainey, Bessie Smith et Billie Holiday « Ce livre d'Angela Davis est, pour moi, une révélation et une véritable rééducation. The "Mother of Blues" takes center stage in August Wilson's tale about the African American experience in 1927. ga('create', 'UA-67136960-15', 'auto', 'ads'); window.googletag.pubads().addEventListener('slotOnload', function(event) { eventAction: 'view' Ma Rainey and Pa Rainey adopted a son named Danny. However, two circumstances would have a debilitating impact on her career. Although married to William Rainey for decades, Ma 'Gertrude Pridgett' Rainey constantly wrote and sang about lesbian affairs, lading some to even believe that her relationship to fellow Blues singer Bessie Smith wasn't just that of a mentor, but a sexual one too. hitType: 'event', “Bessie,” HBO’s 2015 Bessie Smith biopic, offers a more nuanced and realistic depiction of Rainey’s queerness, presenting actress Mo’Nique’s character as an older-sister figure to blues legend Bessie Smith, played by Queen Latifah. if(document.querySelector("#ads")){ ga('ads.send', { ga('ads.send', { From Ma Rainey on Netflix and the Billie Holiday doc to a new book on Bessie Smith, the fearless innovators of American roots music are being recognised in bold new ways, says Stephanie Phillips Desperate to leave her aunt’s home in Chattanooga, Tennessee (her parents were already dead), and envious of her older brother, who had joined a traveling performing troupe called the Moses Stokes Company, Smith begged her brother to get her an audition. It's also been strongly implied over the years that Rainey introduced Smith to lesbian relationships. Her big, deep voice, unusual in a girl so young, made her a popular attraction of almost any show she joined. She was also about 14 when she began to perform with Black minstrel troupes in roaming “tent shows” at the turn of the century (minstrel shows are most often perceived as white performers wearing blackface to perform race-based material, but there was also an extensive minstrel circuit of Black performers). In this light, it has often been suggested that Rainey’s influence over the young Smith was more than professional. “I believe she was courting Bessie,” he said. 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' premieres this Friday, December 18, on Netflix. Ma Rainey, known as the “Mother of the Blues,” isn’t nearly as famous as the blues artists who built on her foundation, from Bessie Smith to Billie Holiday. The victim of a nasty highway accident involving a merging Nabisco truck, Smith bled to death on a country road when she was thrown from her car. The Great Depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929 impacted record companies just as severely as any other industry, and it took a toll on Smith’s record sales, and her career slumped as a result. On record, Smith's style was much different than Rainey’s. window.googletag.cmd.push(function() { }); Rainey was an eye-catching performer. eventCategory: event.slot.getSlotElementId(), Smith was 14 when she first met Rainey around 1912. The tale of doomed love set during the Russian Revolution has come to be regarded as one of cinema’s greatest love stories. MEAWW brings you the best content from its global team of At that time, the main person doing the singing for the show was Rainey. window.adsContainer = 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Wolcott’s Rabbit Foot Minstrels, followed a little bit later by the job with Moses Stokes. }); }) Mentore de Bessie Smith, Ma revendique le même salaire que les hommes et son droit à la liberté. hitType: 'event', Achetez et téléchargez ebook Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (English Edition): Boutique Kindle - Blues : Amazon.fr For all of her visual appeal, however, what most captured audiences’ attention was her voice, which by all accounts was huge and commanding. As to how far they were actually involved sexually, the answer remains ambiguous. reporters on a platform technologically tailored to meet the needs of the modern reader. Gertrude "Ma" Rainey was undoubtedly one of the greatest blues performers of all time. Smith could also not help but be impressed by the bluesy candor of Rainey’s singing style. }); pg.acq.push(function() { In her travels she appeared with jazz and jug bands throughout the South. Naturally, living in close quarters with other troupe members made the possibility of exploring other options easier. Except, well, that wasn’t all she learned… The determination that fueled the first female African American aviator contributed to her demise at age 34. Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Jackie Mabley, Josephine Baker, and Ethel Waters were all part of this world. In popular music, there are certain singers who seem to be what the French call sui generis – true originals who appear out of nowhere and so dominate their chosen style of music that they come to define it. Although Smith herself would get married in the early 1920s, she would conduct various affairs with dancers in her shows throughout her career (the most famous of these, with a woman named Lillian Simpson, resulted in several episodes of violence between Smith and her jealous husband). Apart from teaching her the ways of showbiz and learning to mark her place in a man's world, especially when it came to her finances, Ma Rainey is said to have also influenced Smith's sexuality aplenty. 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. Rainey saw the writing on the wall. }); With Netflix adapting August Wilson's lay 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' to a feature film on the legendary Mother of Blues, speculation runs rife about the legitimacy of the events shown in the narrative, and the characters we meet on screen. As she developed her style, she was able to sing almost any type of song convincingly, from traditional blues to pop music like “After You’ve Gone.” Although there would always be an earthy quality to Smith’s singing, it was never as uncultivated as Rainey’s, which was closer to the sound of country bluesmen like Robert Johnson or Charley Patton, men with a rough-hewn sound who also recorded in the 1920s. Ma Rainey est née à Colombus, en Géorgie, en 1886. ga('ads.send', { Ma Rainey, known as the “Mother of the Blues,” isn’t nearly as famous as the blues artists who built on her foundation, from Bessie Smith to Billie Holiday. Surnommée “la mère du blues”, Ma Rainey est une des premières “rock stars” de l’histoire de la musique. The 'Charlie’s Angels' star was at a crossroads and an early partnership with Kmart guided her toward a new industry and career. Taken together, the divergent styles of Rainey and Smith would largely define the sound of female recorded blues in the early 20s. MEAWW is an initialism for Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide. Apart from teaching her the ways of showbiz and learning to mark her place in a man's world, especially when it came to her finances, Ma Rainey is said to have also influenced Smith's sexuality aplenty. }); document.querySelector("#adunit").addEventListener('click',function(){ Get an intimate look at the king and his wife — the good, the bad and the naughty. Some scholars have said Rainey influenced younger performers, such as Bessie Smith, the blues singer she met in 1912. Print. Ducille. While much of the film detailed Smith’s rise to becoming the “Empress of the Blues,” it also highlighted an important mentor – the “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey played in the film by Mo’Nique. Ma Rainey, as most might know, was a pivotal inspiration behind Smith's music, but that's not all. Two separate miracles of healing were credited to Mother Teresa after her death, which made it possible for her to be canonized as Saint Teresa. Last weekend, HBO debuted, Bessie a new biographical drama focused on the life of blues legend Bessie Smith, starring Queen Latifah in the title role. }); let gads_event; The style was fresh, and the subject matter of the songs dealt with the Black experience in America as no previous songs had done. Only on her very early records is there a hint of influence. Tratta della vita di tre grandi cantanti americane (Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday) strettamente connesse con la diffusione del blues e lascia grande spazio ad alcuni dei testi delle loro canzoni, tra i più significativi. Smith was impressed by the stage presence of this woman who was not much older than she chronologically, but who possessed the kind of experience that made her seem like a much older woman. Bessie Smith n'avait que 14 ans lorsqu'elle a rencontré Ma Rainey vers 1912. }) Biography.com notes, " Life on the road also created an atmosphere that allowed for a more relaxed moral code than society would generally permit. Dropped by Paramount, who stated that her “down-home material has gone out of fashion,” she moved home to Georgia in 1933 to start anew. }); Traditional blues style began to seem old-fashioned as the 30s dawned. Rainey was one of many singers who combined the folk expression of singers who came from the country with the modern, jazzy idioms then emerging from the city. } » (Toni Morrison) Blues et féminisme noir explore l'œuvre de deux blueswomen quelque peu oubliées : Gertrude « Ma » Rainey (1886-1939) et Bessie Smith (1894-1937). Smith, who decided to stick it out in show business, would meet a more tragic end. Still, Smith was grateful for her first job in show business. Sam Chatom, who played guitar for Ma Rainey, was of the opinion that Rainey and Bessie Smith were themselves involved. eventCategory: event.slot.getSlotElementId(), © 2021 Biography and the Biography logo are registered trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC. This is the untold truth of Ma Rainey. While with the Tolliver’s Circus and Musical Extravaganza troupe, she exerted a direct influence on young Bessie Smith. }); Rainey had been picked up at the police station by blues singer Bessie Smith, the highest-paid black entertainer in the entire country, who was also known to sleep with women. Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were the most captivating and expressive of the female singers who in the 1920s introduced a distinctive art that became known as “Classic Blues.” It was a music style shaped early in the 20th century, blending country blues and African roots with a fresh female perspective and newly emerging jazz music. eventAction: 'render' Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, ... Rainey’s contemporaries, including Jelly Roll Morton and Bessie Smith, also wrote similar lyrics.) She got one, and she was hired for the show – as a dancer, not as a singer. eventCategory: event.slot.getSlotElementId(), From Ma Rainey on Netflix and the Billie Holiday doc to a new book on Bessie Smith, the fearless innovators of American roots music are being recognised in bold new ways, says Stephanie Phillips Whether Ma Rainey was directly responsible for Bessie’s interest in women is something we’ll probably never know, but the fact is that after her time in the tent shows, Bessie was more open to alternative lifestyles than before.”. In this light, it has often been suggested that Rainey’s influence over the young Smith was more than professional.". The most famous of these affairs of Smith is believed to have been with a woman called Lillian Simpson — the reason behind a lot of violence between her and her "jealous' husband" but there's nothing on paper about her being in a sexual relationship with Ma Rainey, whose song 'Prove it on Me' is believed to be about a 1925 incident where she got arrested for allegedly hosting an orgy with women from her choir group. She’s less remembered than Smith these days, but she opened the door for Smith and many others to walk through. Like Rainey, Smith sang songs with explicit lesbian content such as “It’s Dirty But Good” from 1930. Retrouvez Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday et des millions de livres en stock sur Amazon.fr. At the time of her death, she was musically transitioning to a more swing-oriented style. Rainey was one of the first singers to popularize the style, and Smith was there, paying close attention. The other development was cultural: More urban-oriented vocalists like Ethel Waters, who sang in a sophisticated jazz style as appropriate to a concert hall as a nightclub, began to supplant the style of blues that was Smith’s (and Rainey’s) bread and butter. Although there is no hard evidence to suggest that the two were involved sexually, bioggraphy.com notes her life on the road, that Ma Rainey prepared Smith for, did allow her plenty of scopes to indulge in a lifestyle that her husband wouldn't allow for at home. if(document.querySelector("#adunit")){ window.googletag.pubads().addEventListener('impressionViewable', function(event) { Apart from teaching her the ways of showbiz, there's more that went on. She would become the highest-earning Black performer in the world by the end of the decade. We are one of the world’s fastest growing She was also a frequent visitor to “buffet flats,” party houses (usually located in big cities) where all forms of sexual expression were permissible. },false) That sexual freedom was as necessary as economic freedom. Georgia Born Gertrude Pridgett (1886- Bessie Smith was a rough, crude, violent woman. It was believed that she was just as into women as she was men, if not more. She was also the greatest of the classic Blues singers of the 1920s. Noté /5. Although Bessie herself would get married in the early 1920s, she would conduct various affairs with dancers in her shows throughout her career.". When we think of these types of singers in relation to jazz, we might think of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald or Nina Simone. The politician and the entertainer had a strong but short-lived bond that helped JFK win the White House. Performers on the vaudeville circuits of the teens and twenties lived a harsh existence of constant travel, dealing with unscrupulous promoters and bad accommodations. Each of these pioneers achieved a first for African Americans. Never able to divorce herself from show business, however, she opened two theaters and ran them until she died of a heart attack six years later. Carousing and sexual adventure were not uncommon. But was Ma Rainey really in a relationship with Bessie Smith? eventAction: 'load' Notifications can be turned off anytime from browser settings, Ma Rainey, as most might know, was a pivotal inspiration behind Smith's music, but that's not all. pg.acq.push(function() { At age eighteen Bessie worked with the Moses Stokes traveling minstrel show, and later with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels under Gertrude "Ma" Rainey. 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