World

‘Ma Rainey’ True Story: Get To Know the Real Life Blues Singer Behind the Viola Davis Movie

Advertisement

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix ends—as many movies primarily based on a real story are inclined to—with a photograph montage of the real-life characters depicted on display. However this explicit based-on-a-true-story film is firstly a based-on-a-play-that-is-based-on-a-true-story film; extra particularly, August Wilson’s 1982 play of the identical title.

Advertisement

Wilson wrote the play as a part of his ten-play Century Cycle, which every middle on African-American experiences from a distinct decade within the twentieth century. The movie model—directed by George C. Wolfe, tailored by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and produced by Denzel Washington—put collectively an all-star solid, together with Viola Davis because the titular function of blues singer Ma Rainey, and Chadwick Boseman because the trumpet participant in her band named Levee. However simply how true was Wilson’s play—and the Netflix adaptation—to real-life? Let’s get into the Ma Rainey’s Black Backside true story.

Is Ma Rainey’s Black Backside primarily based on a real story? How correct is

Sure. Effectively, type of. August Wilson primarily based his 1982 play on the real-life Nineteen Twenties blues singer Ma Rainey, who actually did document her first tracks in a Chicago recording studio for Paramount Information. “Ma Rainey’s Black Backside,” is an actual track of hers, though it was recorded in 1927, and never in 1925 at her first recording session, as is depicted in Wilson’s play.

Advertisement

Nevertheless, the opposite characters in Ma Rainey’s Black Backside—Levee, Toledo, Cutler, Sluggish Drag, and many others—are all fictional. Rainey did carry out with a band, and also you see their picture within the movie’s closing credit. However, in response to Getty Pictures, their names had been Ed Pollock, Albert Wynn, Thomas A. Dorsey, Dave Nelson, and Gabriel Washington.

From left: Ed Pollock, Albert Wynn, Thomas A. Dorsey, Ma (Gertrude) Rainey, Dave Nelson and Gabriel Washington pose for a portrait in 1923 in Chicago, Illinois.
From left: Ed Pollock, Albert Wynn, Thomas A. Dorsey, Ma (Gertrude) Rainey, Dave Nelson and Gabriel Washington pose for a portrait in 1923 in Chicago, Illinois.Michael Ochs Archives

Moreover, the hypothesis on the stress between the band members and the producers at Rainey’s first recording session is totally fictional, as is the deadly battle between her pianist and trumpet participant that acts the movie’s climax. So, sure, Ma Rainey’s Black Backside relies on a real story, in that Ma Rainey was an actual particular person, however many of the precise plot is fictional. That mentioned, the historic exploitation of African-American music by white musicians is actually primarily based on reality.

Advertisement

Who was the true Ma Rainey?

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, often known as “the Mom of the Blues,” was a blues singer referred to as one of many earliest recorded blues artists. Her common tracks embrace “Bo-Weevil Blues” (1923), “Moonshine Blues” (1923), “See See Rider Blues” (1924), “Ma Rainey’s Black Backside” (1927), and “Quickly This Morning” (1927).

Initially from Georgia, and born as Gertrude Pridgett, Rainey began her profession on the vaudeville stage. She married in 1904, to comic, dancer, and vocalist Will Rainey. As she gained fame as a blues singer, in response to the New York Times, “Rainey helped to mainstream narratives of black feminine autonomy that had little to do with the Victorian norms of white society.” She sang openly about her attraction to ladies, which is depicted by way of her relationship with Dussie Mae in Wilson’s play. Mae relies on Rainey’s real-life rumored girlfriend and refrain woman, Bessie Smith.

Advertisement

She recorded with names like Thomas Dorsey and Louis Armstrong. She toured throughout the nation till 1935, when she basically retired. She died of a coronary heart assault on the age of 53 shortly after, in 1939, however clearly, her legacy lives on to this present day.

Watch Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix

Advertisement

Advertisement
Advertisement

Related Articles

Back to top button