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Ma Rainey
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Vocalist
    (April 26, 1886-December 22, 1939)
    Born in Columbus, Georgia
    Birth name was Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett
    Recorded 'See See Rider Blues,' 'Bo-Weavil Blues,' 'Prove It on Me,' 'Bad Luck Blues,' 'Black Eye Blues,' 'Georgia Cake Walk' and 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'
    Known as 'Mother of the Blues'
    Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence (1990)
    She left home at 14 to join a minstrel show.
    She said she coined the name 'blues' to describe the music she sang, a claim no music historian believes.
    She spent the night in jail for hosting an 'indecent party' after police responding to a noise complaint found a room full of naked women in intimate situations (1925).
    Paramount Records terminated her contract, saying her material had gone out of fashion (1928).
    Her obituary in the local paper listed her profession as 'housewife.'
    She mentored Bessie Smith.
    She was backed by jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins.
    Many of her songs addressed the harsh realities of life in the Deep South for poor blacks.
    She earned enough in her brief recording career to purchase two theaters when she retired.
    She inspired August Wilson's Tony Award winning play 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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