Ma Rainey turns 120
April 26 marks the 120th birthday of Gertrude Pridgett, otherwise known as Ma Rainey, legendary "Mother of the Blues." Rainey was the first great professional blues recording artist and, by all accounts, the first woman to incorporate blues into vaudeville and minstrel shows. AADL owns a variety of books and CDs on the life and work of the blues pioneer, including, "Ma Rainey" and Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. She's also featured in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, August Wilson's 1982 play about racism and black rage set during a fictional recording session in a run-down Chicago recording studio in 1927.