She'll Grow Back: Stagger Lee Saturdays - Ma Rainey

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Stagger Lee Saturdays - Ma Rainey

Gertrude "Ma" Rainey was a native of Columbus, Georgia. And she was one of the first blues singers ever, certainly one of the first to make records. She inspired and coached Bessie Smith, and brought her own sexually-charged flavor of blues to the record-buying public. She was backed at times (though not, as far as I know, on this record) by jazz and blues greats such as Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson.

This recording from 1926 is the long-awaited missing link between Stag and "Frankie and Johnny" (or "Frankie and Albert," if you prefer). I love how Ma interweaves the two traditional songs, singing one to the tune of the other, and even intermingling the themes of the two. "Dirty women and old corn whiskey was the cause of it all," indeed.

(I'm well aware that this post marks three whole weeks with only Stag posts -- I'm working on it, I swear.)

1 comment:

CD said...

i just assume you're busy. Happens to the best of us.

As long as you don't mess w/ my Stagger Lee Saturday, life is good.