Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (Paperback)
Three powerhouses of blues music are examined in this book: Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday. These women chose musical lyrics as a public way to communicate messages on politics, private life, and the Black female experience. Doing so was dangerous, though, so they had to express these messages and stories in coded language, thus eluding their white listeners.
Angela Davis is brilliant as always, writing in a way that is informative, digestible, and entertaining.
This book would make a great gift for jazz fanatics, feminists, African American history buffs, or anyone who bows down to our lord and savior, Angela Davis.
- Clarisse— From Clarisse
The works of Rainey, Smith, and Holiday have been largely misunderstood by critics. Overlooked, Davis shows, has been the way their candor and bravado laid the groundwork for an aesthetic that allowed for the celebration of social, moral, and sexual values outside the constraints imposed by middle-class respectability. Through meticulous transcriptions of all the extant lyrics of Rainey and Smith—published here in their entirety for the first time—Davis demonstrates how the roots of the blues extend beyond a musical tradition to serve as a conciousness-raising vehicle for American social memory. A stunning, indispensable contribution to American history, as boldly insightful as the women Davis praises, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism is a triumph.