eMusic Review 0
Though singing blues in minstrel and medicine shows since 1902 or so, Ma Rainey didn't record until 1923, when she was 37 years old. As a link between pre-blues, pre-recording styles and classic blues, she was indeed "Mother of the Blues." Her earthy contralto and phrasing made her more akin to Delta greats than to classic blueswomen, and she helped define the genre repertoire with hits like "See See Rider Blues," which played down-home vocals off against sophisticated backing by Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson. Nor was she a slave to love songs; "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and others spoke to black Southern conditions in a way that few others dared.