Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey Who was Ma Rainey? Born Gertrude Pridgett on April 26, 1886, in Columbus, GA, Ma Rainey was the first popular stage entertainer to incorporate authentic blues into her song collection. Rainey was an inspiration for people like Langston Hughes. Rainey was on the first women to be involved in the Blues genre. […]

Lady Day Sings the Blues: Billie Holiday

Lady Day Sings the Blues: Billie Holiday Billie Holiday Eleanora Fagan, professionally known as Billie Holiday, was an American jazz and swing music singer with a career spanning 26 years. She was nicknamed “Lady Day” by her music producer and close friend Lester Young. Holiday has very influential tough on jazz music and pop singing, […]

Jimmy Reed

Origins of the Blues The Blues was a form of music that came directly after Ragtime music. It was popular in the 20th century amongst the black community. Blues music was found in the Mississippi Delta by people in poverty.The Blues was a form of music that incorporated elements of negro spiritual instruments (the fiddle) […]

Ruth Brown

Miss Rhythm! Background Ruth Brown was a famed Blues singer and songwriter with an incomparable career that played an instrumental role in shaping the Blues genre. She was rightfully crowned the “Queen of R&B” and “Miss Rhythm” due to her role in establishing Atlantic Records as an industry giant. Born Ruth Alston Weston in Portsmouth, […]

Modern Day Blues: Shemkia Copeland

Modern Day Blues: Shemekia Copeland Written By: Mauranne Vernier Thesis Blues began around the 1870s. That was over a century ago. However, the genre is still flourishing and thriving thanks to musicians like Shemekia Copeland, who embodies what it means to be a modern-day Blues artist. Background Shemekia Copeland was born in Harlem, New York […]

Muddy Waters: An American Icon

Muddy Waters: An American Icon The Blues Started in the south, the blues were a way African-Americans could express their sorrows and despair over racial segregation and oppression. Although started by African-Americans, the blues became something everyone could relate to in regards to having hardships.  Muddy Waters was a legendary performer who changed the face […]

Koko Taylor; The Queen of The Blues

Life and Career Cora Anna Walton, better known as Koko Taylor, was born on a farm in Shelby County, Tennessee on September 28, 1928. Her husband was Robert “Pops” Taylor, a truck driver who in 1952, left Tennessee with her for Chicago, Illinois. It was there in the mid to late 1950s, where she began singing […]

Women in Blues: Ma Rainey

Women in Blues: Ma Rainey The south is where Blues was born. Ma Rainey is known to be one of the first African American women to be involved in the genre of Blues. Gertrude “Ma” Rainey was born in 1886 and raised in Columbus Georgia by her two parents Thomas Pridgett Sr. and Ella Allen-Pridgett. […]

Ida Cox: “The Uncrowned Queen of Blues”

Ida Cox: “The Uncrowned Queen of Blues” In early Blues music, many female artists were headlining the genre and making a name for themselves. Famous Blues artists such as Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith, and Lucille Hegamin are great artists who are often mentioned in relation to the Blues genre, but Ida Cox is often overlooked. […]

Baby’s Got Crazy Blues: Mamie Smith

Thesis: Mamie Smith is significant by being the first to make a blues record, which paved way for other blues artists and increased the popularity of race records. The blues is a genre of music that originated in the south, expressing  experiences, feelings, and emotions.  In this genre, there is a primary voice, the singer […]

A Musical Chameleon: Big Bill Broonzy

A Musical Chameleon: Big Bill Broonzy Chicago is a city that marches to its own beat. Comfortably situated in the Midwest, Chicago has produced several musical greats, no matter the music genre. It is a city as diverse as the musicians that call it home. It was this energy that influenced one of the pioneers […]

Empress of Blues: Bessie Smith

Empress of Blues: Bessie Smith Blues: the genre of pain and sorrow. There literally could not have been another name that was more fitting for this genre, especially when we take a look at the personal lives of the most famous and popular blues singers. They were often going through serious economic, political and social […]

Feelin’ The Blues

Everybody knows a little about the blues but most don’t know the history and origins of it. The blues built is foundation of the backs of the work songs down in the South. From slave songs, negro spirituals, and field hollers, the blues emerged. Blues paved the way for Rock n Roll and doesn’t always […]

Work Songs: Do You Sing While You Work?

Do you sing while you work?- The History Behind Work Songs Created by: Angel Milton “Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.” -George Eliot What are work songs? Work Songs are usually “easy to sing along” songs that people would start to sing while working. In doing so, workers […]

The Legend of Lead Belly

Lead Belly and his contribution to folk music Biography of Lead Belly Huddie William Ledbetter (January 20, 1889 -December 6, 1949), more commonly known as “Lead Belly” in the music industry, was a folk and blues singer from Louisiana. Lead Belly first started to learn music at the tender age of two years old. Legend […]

Elizabeth Cotten: A Master in American Folk Music

By: Morgan Allen “I want to tell them about my music. Tell them that I’m a good woman and tell them that’s where they will find me…right up the ladder (in heaven.)” Early Life Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten was born in 1895 in North Carolina. Her love of music started early when at age 7 she […]

Black Folk(s): Do You Drive a Fast Car?

Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman is an American singer-songwriter who rised to fame in the late 1980s and 1990s. She is a Cleveland, Ohio native who was born on the 30th of March in 1964. The musician began writing music and performing in Boston, and caught her big break in 1986 when she was introduced to […]

The Cornerstone of Women in Blues: Ma Rainey

Known for the deep feelings it provokes, blues captures a pivotal historical moment in history. It evokes what blackness and poverty mean in America, and the many difficulties that brings. When one thinks of the blues, they usually think of a black man with a guitar or harmonica. However, there are not just men in the genre. […]

The Blues, Both Encouraging and Depressing

The Blues, Both Encouraging and Depressing Amaia Calhoun Work songs, field hollers, slave songs and spirituals of black people from Texas, Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta are the foundation of the Blues. This rural musical artform captured the suffering, anguish and hopes of 300+ years of slavery and tenant farming. Both the music (instrumentation) and the […]