True Colors: Blues Mama

The Mother of Blues, Ma Rainey (1882-1939, USA) was one of the first people to record a Blues song, in 1923. She grew up in the deep south, and was born shortly after slavery was abolished. The arc of her professional career typified what was available to Black musicians in the US at the time: she started out performing in minstrel shows and traveling with vaudevillian acts, and later performed the Blues in a more modern way. She was at the forefront of the Blues movement in the US, and was a strong mentor to many female blues musicians who were coming up. Although many of Ma Rainey’s songs that mention sexuality refer to love affairs with men, some of her lyrics contain references to love affairs with women, as well, such as the 1928 song Prove It on Me, which refer to an incident in which Ma Rainey was arrested for taking part in an orgy with other women in her home. 

“They said I do it, ain’t nobody caught me.
Sure got to prove it on me.
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends.
They must’ve been women, ’cause I don’t like no men.”

Ma Rainey was not only an inspiration to other Blues performers of her time, but she also was a huge inspiration to the sexual revolution of the 1970s, and songs like Prove It on Me became important touchstones to lesbians confirming their truth. We named our Ma Rainey-inspired colorway Blues Mama. This colorway used to be called Flame Cup.

You can find all of our in-stock True Colors yarn on our website.