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And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Multitude; for we are many."

In the beginning (WOC in the record industry) – Ma Rainey I

Ma Rainey (1886-1939) was one of the first blues singers to record, and the second black woman, following Mami Smith. Ma Rainey grew up in a large family of “black entertainers”, people of color who were exploited by white impresarios/producers serving as entertainers. Her songs often include topics such as domestic violence, abuse, race, women´s sexuality.

In “Black Bottom”, wrote by Rainey herself, she shows us how the relations of subordination/domination are not at all simple or binary. Fetishization of the female black body is empowering. Men want to dictate her what to do, but she has the last word. Power circulates in many ways, this black woman is not more subordinated to the (white) men who want to see her dance, than the men are to her.

Now, you heard the rest
Ah, boys, I’m gonna show you the best
Ma Rainey’s gonna show you her black bottom

Way down south in Alabamy
I got a friend, they call dancin’ Sammy
Who’s crazy about all the latest dances
Black bottom stomps and the Jew baby prances

The other night at a swell affair
Soon as the boys found out that I was there
They said, “Come on, Ma let’s go to the cabaret”
Where that band you ought to hear me say”

I want to see that dance you call the black bottom
I wanna learn that dance
Don’t you see the dance you call your big black bottom
That’ll put you in a trance

All the boys in the neighborhood
They say your black bottom is really good
Come on and show me your black bottom
I want to learn that dance

I want to see the dance you call the black bottom
I want to learn that dance
Come on and show that dance you call your big black bottom
It puts you in a trance

Early last morning ’bout the break of day
Grandpa told my grandma, I heard him say
Get up and show your old man your black bottom
I want to learn that dance

Now I’m gonna show y’all my black bottom
They stay to see that dance
Wait until you see me do my big black bottom
I’ll put you in a trance

Ah, do it ma, do it, honey
Look it now Ma, you gettin’ kinda rough here
You gotta be yourself now, careful now
Not too strong, not too strong, Ma

I done shown y’all my black bottom
You ought to learn that dance.

Ma-Rainey

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One comment on “In the beginning (WOC in the record industry) – Ma Rainey I

  1. Pingback: on black bottoms | MODO DE VOLAR

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This entry was posted on 14/11/2015 by in arterventions, ENG and tagged , , , , .
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