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The True Story Behind ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

She was known as the “Mother of the Blues.” A brash, brilliant performer who captivated audiences with her moving voice and outsized personae. Ma Rainey influenced future legends like Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, but it was her own struggle to remain true to herself as a Black artist during the early 20th century that became the inspiration for Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s play, the first of his works to be performed on Broadway



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