Ma Rainey was an African-American blues singer. She is known as the “Mother of the Blues”. She is known for her charismatic stage performance and vibrant outfits. Ma Rainey net worth before her death was around $2 million. Although some website lists her net worth to be in the range of $5 million to $13 million, it’s hard to suggest that it could be that much high at that time.
Gertrude Pridgett who later became known as “Ma” Rainey was born on April 26, 1886, in Columbus, Georgia. She was the second of five children of Thomas and Ella Pridgett. She also had at least two brothers and a sister in her family. Regarding her marriage, she married William “Pa” Rainey when she was 18 years old.
Rainey started her career at 12 years old as a performer at a talent show in Georgia. She was first exposed to blues music in 1902. She formed the Alabama Fun Makers Company with her husband but in 1906, they joined a larger Rabbit’s Food Company. According to Rainey, she found “Blues Music” when she was in Missouri one night performing and a girl introduced her to a sad song about a man leaving a woman.
Rainey burst into the music scene in 1923 after she was discovered by Paramount Records producer J. Mayo Williams. She signed a contract with Paramount and made her first 8 recordings in Chicago. Over the next five years, she recorded more than 100 other songs which extended her popularity more towards the South. She also worked with Joe “King” Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Becher, and Pops Foster.
In the late 1920s, live vaudeville went into decline due to the rise of radio and recordings. Her career was not heavily affected but it was the beginning of the end of Ma’s career. She continued recording for Paramount and earned a decent amount of money from touring to buy a bus with a name on it. In 1928, her contract was terminated by Paramount after her style of blues went out of fashion,
After that, she went to her hometown in Georgia where she operated three theatres until her death, the Lyric, the Airdome, and the Liberty Theatre. In 1939, she died of a heart attack at the age of 53.
Ma Rainey’s contribution to blues music is immense. In 1983, she was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame. In 1990, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.