Gateway to the music of blues singer Ma Rainey
Originally published on May 15, 2018
Ma Rainey might not be a well-known name, but her influence on music has been huge.
During the 1910s and 1920s, Rainey wrote and performed some of the most popular music of the day, earning her the title "Mother of the Blues." Artists like Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Cher have all covered her songs, and Bob Dylan even names her in his song Tombstone Blues.
Rainey was a trailblazer for black artists and the LGBT community. On stage with her pistol and ostrich feather in hand, Rainey would openly sing about her sexuality and she refused to kowtow to the prejudice of the times.
A new play called Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, looks at Ma Rainey's influence and legacy.
In this q gateway, singer Alana Bridgewater, who plays Rainey in the production sheds some light on the blues singer's life and talks about some of her favourite songs.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is on at the Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto until Saturday, June 2.
— Produced by Ben Edwards