Ma Rainey

by Dominique Lumpkin

Biography of Ma Rainey

Gertrude Pridgett, also known as Ma Rainey, was born on April 16, 1886 in Columbus, Georgia. She was born to a musical family. Her mother and father were minstrel singers. Ma Rainey began singing when she was a young teen, about 14 years old. She started her career after winning a talent show. Her name changed to Ma Rainey when she married William “Pa” Rainey, a comedy songster. Ma Rainey inspired Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown and other poets through her music. The messages from her music were influential. She was known as “Mother of the Blues” and the first great female blues singer. In 1923-1928, she made more than one hundred recordings. She performed with Cole Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Fletcher Henderson and many more instrumentalists. After meeting with the dancer, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey worked with her as her vocal coach to become a vocalist. Ma Rainey retired in 195 after her mother and sister died and moved back to Colombus. She kept herself in some activties, like church. She later then died on December 22, 1939 after having a heart attack.
Ma Rainey - Mini Bio

Movie Questions

1. How will Ma Rainey be remembered?

2. Who burned a contract with Ma Rainey?