This Day in History: 1886-04-26

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (née Pridgett) is born. An influential American blues singer and early blues recording artist, she was dubbed the “Mother of the Blues” and bridged earlier vaudeville and the authentic expression of southern blues, influencing a generation of blues singers. Her first recording was made in 1923. In the following five years, she made over 100 recordings, including “Bo-Weevil Blues” (1923), “Moonshine Blues” (1923), “See See Rider Blues” (1924), “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (1927), and “Soon This Morning” (1927). Rainey was known for her powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a “moaning” style of singing. Rainey recorded with Thomas Dorsey and Louis Armstrong, and she toured and recorded with the Georgia Jazz Band. Learn more.