Many may have recently met Ma Rainey in Netflix’s new film, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” but the mother of blues has been on the folk-blues scene. One of her popular songs titled “Deep Moaning Blues” incorporates instruments commonly used in folk music such as the banjo and guitar. Rainey’s music is an embodiment of the folk genre as she communicates black struggle and hardships especially that of a woman. “ White folks don’t understand about the blues. They hear it come out but they don’t know how it got there. They don’t understand it’s life‘s way of talking, you don’t sing to feel better you sing because that’s a way of understanding life. The blues to help you get out of bed in the morning, you get up knowing you ain’t alone. There’s some thing else in the world, something’s been added by that song.”

Ma Rainey’s Influence

The likes of Ma Rainey are portrayed by characters in Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.”
Louis Armstrong learned from Ma Rainey and played alongside her on several songs including “See, See Rider” which was covered by famous names such as Ray Charles and Elvis Presley.
Featured on the cover, Ma Rainey is mentioned throughout Angela Davis’ book for her carefree expression of women and their existence.

Ma Rainey is a prime example of the statement “legends never die.” Her impact exceeds folk music, creating an entirely new genre. Centuries later and her work still prevails in all forms of art and expression. Her legacy lives on. What have you experienced in your life that is influenced by the mother of blues?