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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is a 1982 play – one of the ten-play Pittsburgh Cycle by August Wilson – that chronicles the 20th-century African-American experience. The play is set in a recording studio in 1920s Chicago, and deals with issues of race, art, religion, and the historic exploitation of Black recording artists by white producers.
- August Wilson
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. 2020 | R | 1h 34m | Dramas. Tensions and temperatures rise at a Chicago music studio in 1927 when fiery, fearless blues singer Ma Rainey joins her band for a recording session. Starring: Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman.
- George C. Wolfe
- 94 min
Ma Rainey - 'Ma' Rainey's Black Bottom from Ma Rainey Mother Of The Blues (1965)-----Cop...
- 6 min
Ma Rainey Character Analysis. Ma Rainey. Ma Rainey was a real-life Black musician famous for singing the blues in the early 20th century. Often hailed as the “Mother of the Blues,” she was an important artist in the genre’s development and popularity. In the play, she is very aware of her own influence and knows how to use it to her ...
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom takes place in 1927 and fictionalizes the real-life singer Ma Rainey, known as the Mother of the Blues, whose career spanned from 1899 to 1933. The play takes place over the course of one day in a Chicago recording studio, in which Ma Rainey and her band are laying tracks for a new album.
Jan 29, 2021 · In George C. Wolfe’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” tensions rise as Ma Rainey, played by Academy Award winner Viola Davis and her ambitious trumpet player, Levee, played by Chadwick Boseman ...
- Jazz Tangcay
- Wilson Was Inspired by A Decade-Long Deep Dive Into The Blues
- Little Is Known of Rainey’s Early Years
- 'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom' Takes Place on One Day in 1927
- Rainey’s Career Was Short-Lived
Born in Pittsburgh in 1945 to a white father and African American mother, Wilson developed a love of literature at an early age but dropped out of high school and briefly served in the U.S. Army before returning to his native city at age 20. He struggledto get by as he began his writing career, supporting himself through menial jobs while also spending his free time in local bars and restaurants, observing the daily struggles, joys and lives of the Black neighbors that would become the focus of his life’s work. Already deeply influenced by revolutionary Black activists and the works of Black writers like Amiri Baraka and James Baldwin, Wilson began what he described as a near-obsessive exploration into the history of the blues, wearing out records by artists like Bessie Smith and Rainey. As he later wrote, “There was a nobility to the lives of Blacks in America which I didn’t always see... After I discovered the blues, I began to look at the people in the [rooming] house a little di...
Born Gertrude Pridgett, Rainey claimed she was born in Georgia in 1886, although recent research suggestsshe may have been born four years earlier, in Alabama. She was the second of five children and by her early teens had taken to the stage, performing primarily as a vaudeville artist and singer on the tent show circuit. After marrying singer William “Pa” Rainey in 1904, the pair developed a duo, known as Ma and Pa Rainey, although they would later divorce. Rainey’s early musical influences were the popular vaudeville, minstrel and cabaret music of the era, but during her early touring days, she was exposed to a new form of music, soon to be known as the blues. She quickly became one of the music’s earliest and most influential interpreters, and in turn influenced a generation of blues singers, including the legendary Smith, who Rainey mentored in her early years. Her deep, brassy voice and “moaning” singing style quickly gained her fans, as did her frank, sometimes bawdy lyrics, w...
The only one of Wilson’s “Pittsburg Cycle” to take place outside of that city, the play is set inside a recording studioon the South Side of Chicago, where Rainey had settled in the early 1920s. She was near the height of her fame, frequently touring the country and performing with musicians including King Oliver and a young Armstrong. In 1923, she signed a contract with Paramount Records, becoming one of the first musical artists to record her songs for posterity. But for Black musicians of the day, commercial and popular success often failed to lead to financial security. Tour promoters frequently tried to avoid properly compensating performers, and in the early years of the recording industry, many Black stars signed away not only future royalties to their recordings but often ownership of the songs themselves to white record companies and producers, a form of exploitation and cultural theft faced by Black artists for decades to come.
As the play depicts, musical tastes were indeed changing. Despite recording more than 100 songs in a five-year period in the late 1920s, Rainey’s career declined as jazz and other forms of popular music took center stage, and the economic downturn of the Great Depressionled to decline in touring opportunities. Rainey effectively retired in 1935, returning home to Georgia where she managed local theaters until her death in 1939. Because many of her Paramount recordings were of inferior audio quality, her music slipped into obscurity for decades, before they were reissued in the 1960s, helping her posthumously reclaim her role as one of the most important and influential blues musicians and earning her inductions into both the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jan 07, 2021 · What Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Changes From The August Wilson Play. The Netflix film starring Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis differs from the original August Wilson play, part of his celebrated Pittsburgh Cycle. When Ma Rainey's Black Bottom made its way into the homes of millions December 18 via Netflix, it introduced a whole new audience to ...
Jan 01, 2021 · The Fiasco of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Viola Davis looks frightening in the film version of August Wilson’s 1984 play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Her monstrous eye shadow, shark-jawed false ...
- 3 min
- Armond White