A famous Columbus singer had her obituary published in the New York Times this week — almost 80 years after her death.
Ma Rainey, who died of a heart attack on Dec. 22, 1939 in Rome, Ga., was featured in a Times series entitled “Overlooked.” It is a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times. This month the newspaper added the stories of important L.G.B.T.Q. figures.
“Overlooked No More: Ma Rainey, the ‘Mother of the Blues: With her unapologetic lyrics, Rainey proudly proclaimed her bisexuality and helped to mainstream black female narratives in a musical style that later became a nationwide craze.”
Rainey’s Columbus roots are not hard to find. Her home at 805 Fifth Ave., is a museum. Her name is on the Rainey-McCullers School Of Arts, a Muscogee County School District school.
Rainey had a rich musical history that dates back to the early Twentieth Century.
The Times obit described her this way:
“Often called the “Mother of the Blues,” she was the first entertainer to successfully bridge the divide between vaudeville — the cabaret-style shows that developed out of minstrelsy in the mid-1800s, and catered largely to white audiences — and authentic black Southern folk expression.”
Rainey was born in 1886 and married Will Rainey in 1904.