Ma Rainey was one of the earliest known American professional blues singers and one of the first generation of such singers to record. She was billed as The Mother of the Blues.
She began performing as a young teenager, and recorded under the name Ma Rainey after she and Will Rainey were married in 1904. They toured with F.S. Wolcott's Rabbit Foot Minstrels and later formed their own group called Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. From the time of her first recording in 1923 to five years later, Ma Rainey made over 100 recordings, including "Bo-weevil Blues", "Moonshine Blues", "See See Rider", "Black Bottom", and "Soon This Morning".
Ma Rainey was known for her very powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a â€˜moaningâ€™ style of singing similar to folk tradition. Her powerful voice was never adequately captured on her records, due to her recording exclusively for Paramount, which was at the time known for its below-average recording techniques and poor shellac quality. However, Rainey's other qualities are present and most evident in her early recordings, Bo-weevil Blues and Moonshine Blues.