Sisterhood is clearly evident in the friendship between bessie smith and ma rainey in fact, in 1925 when rainey was arrested for throwing an indecent party with other women, bessie smith was the. Ma rainey: mother of the blues bessie smith bailed her out of jail ma rainey's album prove to me blues, a monologue about women who love women, showed reference of a women in appearance to rainey, in hat, tie and jacket talking to a flapper in the distance a policeman observes black and gay geek and greek (phi beta sigma. 1920s gay culture “homosexuality was clearly part of this world ‘there’s two things got me puzzled, there’s two things i don’t understand,’ moaned blues great bessie smith, ‘that’s a mannish-acting woman and a lisping, swishing, womanish-acting man. Male impersonator gladys fergusson is mentioned as an intimate of bessie smith's, and another famous blues singer, bessie smith's early teacher, ma rainey, is cited as a woman-loving woman porter grainger, the black composer of one of bessie smith's musicals, is mentioned as homosexual. This fascinating book looks at women's blues of the 1920s and 1930s through the lens of black feminism, revealing how the lyrics and recorded performances of ma rainey and bessie smith illuminated the struggles and issues that black working-class women faced in the early 20th century.
Definition of the term womanist and how it relates to feminism, some history of the term, and quotes and books for further study blues legacies and black feminism: gertrude ma rainey, bessie smith, and billie holiday 1998 barbara smith home girls: a black feminist anthology. Bessie smith’s and ma rainey’s willingness to discuss sexuality, especially homosexuality, was very unusual for the time according to essayist michele mitchell, many african american women in the early part of the 20 th century chose to create a “culture of dissemblance. Bessie and ma rainey both addressed controversial subject matter such as abuse, racism, feminism, sexuality, economic issues, and homosexuality, specifically lesbianism bessie smith is truly a blues legacy and contributed to the advancement of black women not only in music but in the world as well. After the turn of the century, smokey blues cabarets proliferated in urban areas with large african american populations, which would draw almost exclusively black audiences, who made ma rainey and bessie smith stars.
The 1920's saw a revolution in technology, the advent of the recording industry, which created the first class of african-american women to sing their way to fame and fortune. The queer black woman who reinvented the blues “one of the first black divas in history” before ma rainey was the mother of the blues, she was a young musician named gertrude pridgett. Homosexuality and feminism in the life of the black divas ma rainey and bessy smith (1815 words, 7 pages) queer rebels of the harlem renaissance affecting american and international culture from campfires to parties to afternoon picnics, african-americans in the south created a type of music that vividly told their story.
Archiving the stories of black queer blues singers such as ma rainey, bessie smith, and gladys bentley, this fascinating film uses it's title from one of the most popular blues songs to symbolize. Around this time, a young bessie smith was forming her talents under the wing of gertrude “ma” rainey, an early blues singer who also owned her own theatre troupe smith was born one of seven children in chattanooga, tn in 1894, and was orphaned by age eight. In 1930’s “the boy in the boat,” ma rainey’s protégé, bessie smith sang, when you see two women walking hand in hand, just look ‘em over and try to understand: they’ll go to those parties—have the lights down low—only those parties where women can go.
Although both cone and levine make references to mamie smith, ma rainey, bessie smith, and other women who composed and performed blues songs, they, like most scholars, tend to view women as marginal to the production of the blues. Lesbianism was practiced and sung by such diverse singers as bessie smith, ma rainey, and gladys bentley -- the last was known as a tough-talking, singing piano player who some believed to be a. Angela davis’s blues legacies and black feminism inspired filmmaker dee rees to portray blues legend bessie smith as a “radical feminist” in the 2015 hbo film bessie, starring queen latifah (ellis 2015.
One of bessie smith's more obscure songs, black mountain blues, describes that imaginary yet familiar place where everything is upside-down: back in black mountain, a child will smack your face back in black mountain, a child will smack your face babies cryin' for liquor, and all the birds sing. Black american feminisms web site, where one will find an extensive bibliography of black american feminist writings from across the disciplines, dating back to the early nineteenth century when african american women like maria stewart, anna julia cooper and sojourner truth challenged the conventions and mores of their era to speak publicly against slavery and in support of black womenõs rights. If the black church community is ever going to be a place where all black bodies are accepted and thus, right the wrong in the black church community then it must join ma rainey, bessie smith and other blues women, and sing the blues.