Ma Rainey (1886-1939) was one of the first African-American professional blues singers. Born Gertrude Pridgett, she began performing as a teenager in black minstrel shows, where she met her husband, Will Rainey, and would go on to to perform in various acting troupes, including Fat Chappelle’s Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Following her divorce, she continued to tour with her own band, Madame Gertrude Rainey and Her Georgia Smart Sets. In 1923 she was discovered by Paramount Records producer, J. Mayo Williams, who recorded her most famous track ‘Bo-weevil Blues’, along with ‘Bad Luck Blues’ and ‘Moonshine Blues’.
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