ma and band

White folks hear the blues come out, but they don’t know how it got there. They don’t understand that’s life’s way of talking. You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ’cause that’s a way of understanding life.
Ma Rainey

“Rainey was outspoken on women’s issues and a role model for future women entertainers who took control of their own careers.

Also known, though less discussed, is the fact that she was bisexual. Rainey never shied away from her feelings in her music, as is apparent in the lyrics of ‘Prove It On Me'”:

Lyrics: Ma Rainey: Prove It On Me Blues”

Went out last night, had a great big fight

Everything seemed to go on wrong

I looked up, to my surprise

The gal I was with was gone.

Where she went, I don’t know

I mean to follow everywhere she goes;

Folks say I’m crooked.

I didn’t know where she took it

I want the whole world to know.

They say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me

Sure got to prove it on me;

Went out last night with a crowd of my friends,

They must’ve been women, ‘cause I don’t like no men.

It’s true I wear a collar and a tie,

Makes the wind blow all the while

Don’t you say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me

You sure got to prove it on me.

Say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me

Sure got to prove it on me.

I went out last night with a crowd of my friends,

It must’ve been women, ‘cause I don’t like no men.

Wear my clothes just like a fan

Talk to the gals just like any old man

Cause they say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me

Sure got to prove it on me.

http://www.outhistory.org/wiki/Ma_Rainey%27s_%22Prove_It_On_Me_Blues,%22_1928

The 1982 August Wilson play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was based on her career and took its title from her song of the same name recorded before 1928 which ostensibly refers to the Black Bottom dance of the time, while making the obvious allusions to seeing her big black bottom.*

* compiled from internet sources

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One thought on “Ma Rainey (April 26, 1882 – Dec 22, 1939)

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