Photo credits: The Document Records Store
On April 26, 1886, blues songstress Ma Rainey (pictured) was born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus, Georgia.
Known as “Mother of the Blues,” Rainey is credited as the first popular entertainer to incorporate the blues style into her performances. She married comedian William “Pa” Rainey in 1904 and the couple toured together throughout the South. Her travels exposed her to the burgeoning blues scene. B
By 1905, she was thrilling audiences with her soulful style.
Between 1923 to 1928, she made over 100 recordings, including one of her best-known hits, “Bo-Weavil Blues” (1923), and worked with a number of luminaries, including Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. Rainey’s music is also noted as the muse for Harlem Renaissance poets such as Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown (Middleton, 2013).
She passed away from a heart attack in 1939 at 53. In 1990, Rainey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Reference: Middleton, B. (2013, April 26) This Day in Black History: April 26, 1886. BET.com https://www.bet.com/news/national/2013/04/26/this-day-in-black-history-april-26-1886.html
*BlackThen.com writer/historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report.