The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


Ma Rainey

Induction category: Early Influence

Biography

If Bessie Smith is the acknowledged “Queen of the Blues,” then Gertrude “Ma” Rainey is the undisputed “Mother of the Blues.” As music historian Chris Albertson has written, “If there was another woman who sang the blues before Rainey, nobody remembered hearing her.” Rainey fostered the blues idiom, and she did so by linking the earthy spirit of country blues with the classic style and delivery of Bessie Smith. She often played with such outstanding jazz accompanists as Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson, but she was more at home fronting a jugband or washboard band. Ma Rainey was born Gertrude ...

full bio

Ma Rainey Highlights

You need Flash to see this content. You can download it here.