Gertrude "Ma" Rainey

By: Josh Stine

The Life of Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey was born on April 26, 1886 in Columbus, Georgia. She grew up in a poor family which was also very musically gifted with her grandma and both of her parents being singers. So naturally, she picked up a few things. She began her singing career at the young age of 14 by preforming in the production "A Bunch of Blackberries". In her later teens she began dating William Rainey and soon after they got married. In 1904 Gertrude "Ma" and William "Pa" Rainey were officially married. For close to three decades the Raineys toured the South, the Midwest, and Mexico. Ma Rainey was credited with being the "Mother of Blues" since she was one of the first contributors to the blues movement. Ma Rainey was acclaimed to guiding Bessie Smith in her musical career also. Bessie Smith is now remembered as "The Empress of Blues". In 1923 Rainey began her 10 year partnership with Paramount. By the end of Ma Raineys' career she had produced over 100 recordings. She was a leader and an inspiration for many artists to come. She impacted the 1920's greatly by providing a new form of music and she was able to inspire others such as Bessie Smith to create music of their own. Gertrude "Ma" Rainey sadly passed away from a heart attack on December 22, 1939. Her legacy lives on today as we may still be able to hear her soul in our current blues artists.
Ma Rainey - Mini Bio


  1. Who did Ma Rainey partner with or guide in their musical career later in her life?
  2. What style of music did Ma Rainey specialize in?

Ma Rainey's Impact

Ma Rainey inspired many others to venture into the blues style of music by being one of the leading women in blues. Ma Rainey can still be heard in the current blues music and she will now live on forever through her music.