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LGBT People Of History Part Twenty Four Ma Rainey

Updated on April 3, 2012
Ma Rainey
Ma Rainey | Source
Ma Rainey Album Cover
Ma Rainey Album Cover | Source

Ma Rainey

Gertrude Pridgett was born on April 26th 1886 in Columbus, Georgia USA into a large family. Gertrude began performing between the ages of 12 and 14 under the name of Madame Gertrude Pridgett. She would later become Ma Rainey. Her date of birth is questionable as the 1900 census has her born in 1882.

In 1904 at the age of 18, Gertrude married Will Rainey - himself a singer, dancer and comedian. The two performed together. They toured with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and later formed their own group called Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues.

Ma Rainey was one of the earliest known American professional blues singers and was one of the first ones to ever record songs. She was dubbed ‘The Mother of Blues’ and was active between the years of 1900 to 1933.

Ma Rainey was in trouble a lot with the police however for her lesbian behaviour. One such incident was in 1925 when she had an orgy at her home with several other women. For this scandal and behaviour Ma Rainey was arrested but fortunately her friend Bessie Smith bailed her out.

Ma Rainey’s album “Prove to Me in Blues” is very lesbian focused and gives references to women who love women.

In 1935 Ma Rainey returned home to Columbus where she ran two theatres known as “The Lyric” and “The Airdrome” until she sadly suffered a heart attack in 1939 and died.

Callum & Ian Thanks To Wikipedia and

LGBT People Of History Archive
LGBT People Of History Archive | Source
Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich | Source
Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo | Source
Gladys Bentley
Gladys Bentley | Source
Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith | Source

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    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      I have to agree there, we were so lucky that we found them :)

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      These two (Ma and Bessie) sit well together.