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Deep Moaning Blues

Ma Rainey & Her
Tub Jug Washboard Band


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Gertrude "Ma" Rainey
(April 26th 1886 - December 22nd 1939)


This recording was produced in Chicago during June of 1928 featuring Gertrude "Ma" Rainey made accompanied by her "Tub Jug Washboard Band" consisting of "Georgia" Tom Dorsey piano, Martell Pettiford banjo, Herman Brown Kazoo, tub, & washboard, and Carl Reid kazoo & jug.

*"Deep Moaning Blues" was written by Gertrude "Ma" Rainey.

Born in Columbus, Georgia on April 26th 1886 Gertrude Pridgett would become one of the earliest professional blues singers. She began performing as a young teen under the name of "Ma" Rainey following her marriage to Will "Pa" Rainey in 1904. After traveling with their own "Alabama Fun Makers Company", in 1906 they joined the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and formed their own group "Rainey & Rainey", "Assassinators of the Blues" in 1914. It was around this time that 'Ma' encountered a young Bessie Smith to whom she would serve as a great inspiration during their years together on the road.

Coined the "Mother of the Blues", Ma Rainey was renowned for her moaned vocals and energetic performance as well as her exceptional songwriting abilities. In 1923 Ma made her recording debut in Chicago with the title "Moonshine Blues" and signing a contract with Paramount went on to cut more than one hundred sides within the next five years. She began touring the South and Midwestern United States on the T.O.B.A. circuit in 1924 with her "Wildcats Jazz Band" led by pianist Thomas A. Dorsey.

Ma Rainey made her last twenty recordings for Paramount in 1928 and her contact with the label was not renewed because her style had come to be considered outdated. Her career was not effected immediately, in-spite of a decline in the popularity of live vaudeville she continued to tour and was still earning enough money to afford a bus with her name painted down the side. Gertrude "Ma" Rainey retired to her hometown in 1935 to operate two theaters, "The Lyric" and "The Airdrome". She continued to run both establishments up until her death from a heart attack in Rome, Georgia on April 26th 1939.

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