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Black Eye Blues

Gertrude "Ma" Rainey


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April 26, 1886 - December 22, 1939


Legendary blues singer Gertrude "Ma" Rainey said she was born April 26, 1886 in Columbus, Georgia. There's some question about the details.

An extended stay in New Orleans while touring with a traveling revue gave her the chance to meet pioneering young jazzmen like Joe "King" Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Sidney Bechet.

An early mentor to Bessie Smith, Rainey was signed to Paramount Records in 1923 and produced over 100 records for them over a five year period.

When she was a young teen in Columbus, Georgia, Gertrude Pridgett began singing at events put on by the local Baptist Church.

After marrying Will Rainey in 1904 the duo toured with F.S. Wolcott's Rabbit Foot Minstrels before forming their own traveling show troupe.

Becoming Known professionally as "Ma" Rainey, she was not the typical blues singer, her style was a blend blues and vaudeville with a hint of humor.

Gertrude's enormous widespread popularity landed her a recording contract with Paramount and she would produce over one-hundred top selling records between 1923 and 1928.

Able to retire from performing in 1935 Ma Rainey returned to her hometown in Georgia where she managed two theaters until her death from a heart attack in 1939.

This song was recorded in Chicago in September 1930 featuring Ma Rainey (vocals), Tampa Red (slide guitar), and Georgia Tom Dorsey (piano).

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