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This Day in Georgia History

September 17, 1994

Ma Rainey Stamp Issued

The U.S. Postal Service released a stamp honoring Georgia’s Gertrude “Ma” Rainey in first-day-of-issue ceremonies in Greenville, Mississippi, as part of a series of 8 stamps commemorating great American jazz and blues singers. Born in Columbus in 1886, Gertrude Malissa Pridgett began singing at the Springer Opera House at age 14. She subsequently joined black vaudeville troupes and minstrel shows touring the south. Performing in tent shows, the groups mainly sang popular music hits. But shortly after she married “Pa” Rainey at age 18, “Ma” Rainey began bringing audience something different. She began to work into her Rabbit Foot Minstrels act plaintive, poignant music she had first overhead a young Missouri woman sing. As the music she dubbed the blues caught on, Rainey’s fame grew. She was one of the first female artists to record the blues professionally, and in fact is known as the “Mother of the Blues.” In 1934, she retired and purchased two theaters - one in Columbus and one in Rome - which she managed until her death in 1939.

Image of Ma Rainey Stamp Issued View large image
Source: Collection of Ed Jackson