Who was Ma Rainey, her gold teeth, Husband, Sexuality, Death and know Everything about her life? Ma Rainey was a trailblazing musician who brought a unique blend of traditional blues and vaudeville to towns across the United States. Rainey claimed not only to be the first professional female blues singer, having performed in front of live vaudeville audiences at the age of sixteen in around 1900, but she also claimed to have coined the term “blues” after adding a heartbreak song she’d heard a woman sing in Missouri to her own repertoire.
Rainey, a big presence on stage with her gold teeth, overdone eyeliner make-up, ostrich feathers, a necklace of heavy gold coins, dancers, and a deep, raspy voice that commanded the entire attention, was renowned for her immensely strong performances. Before wowing the cabaret rooms of northern US cities in the 1920s, she honed her art in travelling ‘tent shows’ of the South – pop-up acts in Big Top-like venues.
Ma Rainey, also known as the “Mother of the Blues,” was a fascinating character. If you’ve watched ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,’ you’ll know what I’m talking about. Viola Davis portrays a complex portrayal of a black lady who was ahead of her time in the movie. If you want to understand more about her, we have the information you require.
Recommended: What Was the Ma Rainey’s Cause of Death?
Know About Ma Rainey Gold Teeth
Ma Rainey had gold teeth, to be sure. Ma, as we all know, was not only a force of nature, but also a consummate professional. As a result, it’s no wonder that the outfits she wore for her performances reflected who she was. Ma was mostly seen in opulent gowns adorned with a colossal amount of jewellery. Even before she started singing, her complete costume would make a statement on stage.
In the 1920s, Ma collaborated with Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the “Father of Gospel Music.” “The gold in her teeth would flash when she started singing,” he claimed. “She was in the spotlight,” he continued. Listeners were possessed by her; they swayed, rocked, moaned, and groaned as they shared the blues with her.”
Ma Rainey was a Lesbian or Straight?
Ma Rainey was a true trailblazer, especially in the 1920s. Over the course of her career, the black lady experienced not just racial and sexist obstacles, but it is also widely assumed that she was bisexual. She married William “Pa” Rainey when she was 18 years old, but the couple eventually divorced.
Ma was also romantically related with Bessie Smith, known as the “Empress of Blues.” However, little is known about Ma’s female partners. As a result, it can’t be considered a verified story.
Bessie was also mentored by the “Mother of the Blues.” Ma was rumoured to have kidnapped a young Bessie Smith while she was still attempting to make it famous in the business. Why? According to legend, Ma pushed Smith to join Rabbit’s Foot Minstrels, a show in which Ma performed. This is also where she is said to have taught Bessie how to sing the blues. Maud Smith, the latter’s sister-in-law, refuted these assertions.
This isn’t the only time Ma has been linked to her sexuality. Ma was imprisoned in Chicago in 1925. She was arrested after throwing an all-female party that was allegedly an orgy the night before. Smith, her protege, is said to have bailed her out the next morning. (This could explain why they were suspected of being romantically involved.)
“Went out last night with a crowd of my pals,” she sings in the 1928 song “Prove It on Me Blues,” which has lines that allude to her flexible sexual orientation: “Went out last night with a crowd of my friends. They have to be ladies, since I’m not fond of men.”
This isn’t the only song in which Ma’s apparent bisexuality is hinted at. “I don’t want to overplay the significance of the three songs that Ma Rainey composed and recorded that contained some references to lesbianism and homosexuality,” stated Robert Philipson (director of “T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s”). That’s just a small sample of the hundreds of blues songs that have been recorded. Given the circumstances, the fact that there were any at all was extraordinary. It was never seen in any other aspect of American society.”
Ma Rainey Age
Ma Rainey claimed to have been born on April 26, 1886 in Georgia, but according to the 1900 census, she was born in Alabama in September 1882. Perhaps the first example of the time-honored’stage age,’ as a result of inadequate record-keeping and literacy at the period.
She Was One of the First Black Female Musicians to Record
Mamie Smith, a blues singer, had recorded initially in 1920, but Ma Rainey was still a rarity in 1923, when she launched a productive recording career for Paramount Records.
She Was a One-Woman Band in the Music Business
Ma Rainey was a performer, a recording artist, a bandleader, a mentor, and a travelling artist, as well as a venue owner in her later years. She ran three theatres in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia, from 1935 to 1939: the Lyric, the Airdrome, and the Liberty Theatre.
Ma Rainey’s Husband: Who Was He?
Ma Rainey married William “Pa” Rainey in 1904, and the two went on to perform in minstrel performances together, the most famous of which being Rabbit’s Foot Company. They founded their own band, Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues, in 1914. They even adopted a kid named Danny, but in 1916, the couple divorced.
She is thought to have afterwards married a younger guy, but there isn’t much information available regarding this relationship. Most notably, Ma was linked to her pupil and mentee, Bessie Smith, despite the fact that she never officially identified as bisexual. Both were virtuoso singers who were well-known for their risqué songs at the time.
They became romantically linked as a result of their commonalities. However, there is no confirmation of such a connection; therefore we can’t be sure what happened between the two. “For me, it’s just like there are an infinite amount of ways to be a woman and none of them make you less than the other, just because it’s different than some heteronormative consciousness,” Taylour Paige, who plays Ma’s fictional girlfriend, Dussie Mae, said about her role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
“Sexuality is the last thing that [matters]—Ma is a woman who sleeps with whom she wants to sleep with, just like any other male.” Ma was an assertive woman who lived her truth in the end.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is now available on Netflix.
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