The Significance of the Blues as a Cultural Expression in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Beşe, Ahmet
June 2011
Journal of Graduate School of Social Sciences;Jun2011, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p227
Academic Journal
August Wilson's first Broadway play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom brings several issues on stage that reflects his whole contour of theatre such as the blues, and his interest in both factual and fictional history. Ma Rainey (1886-1939), 'Mother of Blues' was the acknowledged blues singer in African American folk culture. It is an integral part of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom in which the blues is defined as 'a cultural expression and an understanding of life' for African American community throughout their painful history in the U.S. The blues primarily refers to African American culture, and it reminds the characters of their past history; through the music the characters tell their stories, and through this try to understand life itself, as the title character of the play defines that the blues is 'life's way of talking.' The intention of this article is to analyze the relations of the blues music and its significance as a cultural expression on characters as both musicians and African Americans in the play. The blues reflects the emotional content (sorrows, joys, plights and affairs, etc.) of African Americans, their experiences, their traditions and culture, at large.


Related Articles

  • In Steel City, A Showcase for Black Culture. Dyer, Ervin; Johnson, C. Denise // Crisis (15591573);Fall2009, Vol. 116 Issue 4, p32 

    The article profiles the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in the neighborhood of Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. According to the article, the center is the first cultural place bearing the name of a Black...

  • Waking the Dead: History and Memory in August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Joe Turner's Come and Gone and The Piano Lesson. Noggle, Richard // New England Theatre Journal;2008, Vol. 19a, p61 

    This article uses Pierre Nora's definitions of "memory," "history," and "lieux de mémoire" to examine how Wilson's characters interact with their cultural and historical pasts. Ma Rainey's Levee rejects the communal nature of the blues and remains disconnected, while Joe Turner's Herald...

  • A Study in Black and White. Hecht, Stuart J. // New England Theatre Journal;2008, Vol. 19a, preceding p2 

    The article highlights the opportunity given by professor Heather Nathans of the University of Maryland's Department of Theatre in Baltimore to "New England Theatre Journal" to dedicate an entire issue to the publication of scholarly works about the late playwright August Wilson which were...

  • Ground Broken On August Wilson Center For African American Culture In Pittsburgh.  // Jet;11/6/2006, Vol. 110 Issue 18, p54 

    This article discusses the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The $36 million cultural center, named after the award-winning playwright, had its groundbreaking in 2006. Construction of the 65,000 square foot building will begin in December of 2006, and...

  • Infinite Variety: Introduction to the Special Issue on August Wilson. Nathans, Heather S. // New England Theatre Journal;2008, Vol. 19a, p1 

    The article discusses various reports published within the issue including one by Monica White Ndounou on the legacy of playwright August Wilson and another by Soyica Diggs Colbert on history and memory on Wilson's play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone."

  • The Jezebel Stereotype in August Wilson Play "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom". Hussein, Abdulmalik Nagi // Indian Streams Research Journal;Mar2012, Vol. 2 Issue 2, Special section p1 

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is a 1982 play - one of the ten-play Pittsburgh Cycle by , a Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright - that chronicles the twentieth century African American experience. 1 August Wilson is a contemporary African American playwright who has radically influenced the...

  • Only in Alabama: Our State of the Blues. ROBERTS, CAROLANNE GRIFFITH // Southern Living;5/1/2011, Vol. 46 Issue 5, pALL2 

    The article examines blues music within the state of Alabama, providing a history of the movement and also discussing bands that play at eating establishments within the state. Quotes are provided by Debbie Bond, founder of the Alabama Blues Project. Blues musicians such as Perry Bradford and Ma...

  • August Wilson's Call: Notes from the Editors. Harrison, Paul Carter; Walker, II, Victor Leo // African American Review;Winter97, Vol. 31 Issue 4, p565 

    Focuses on the controversy arising from playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's call for unity among Afro-American playwrights, intellectuals and artists. Need to develop guidelines for the protection of Afro-Americans' cultural property, their contributions and the influence they...

  • Wilson To Convene National Meet On Black Theatre. Armbrust, Roger // Back Stage;02/13/98, Vol. 39 Issue 7, p3 

    Reports that Hanover, New Hampshire-based Dartmouth College will be hosting a major colloquium of leaders in African-American theater. Controversy surrounding August Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist; Issues to be discussed in the conference; Artists scheduled to attend the conference.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics