Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

by Angela Y. Davis
Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

by Angela Y. Davis

Paperback(1 VINTAGE)

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From one of this country's most important intellectuals comes a brilliant analysis of the blues tradition that examines the careers of three crucial black women blues singers through a feminist lens. Angela Davis provides the historical, social, and political contexts with which to reinterpret the performances and lyrics of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday as powerful articulations of an alternative consciousness profoundly at odds with mainstream American culture.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679771265
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/26/1999
Edition description: 1 VINTAGE
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 324,768
Product dimensions: 5.21(w) x 7.95(h) x 0.91(d)

About the Author

Angela Y. Davis is a political activist, scholar, author, and speaker. She is an outspoken advocate for the oppressed and exploited, writing on Black liberation, prison abolition, the intersections of race, gender, and class, and international solidarity with Palestine. She is the author of several books, including Women, Race, and Class and Are Prisons Obsolete? She is the subject of the acclaimed documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners and is distinguished professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Table of Contents

I.  I Used to Be Your Sweet Mama:  Ideology, Sexuality and Domesticity

II.  Blame It On the Blues:  Bessie Smith, “Ma” Rainey and the Politics of Blues Protest

III.  Mama’s Got The Blues:  Rivals, Girlfriends and Advisors

IV.  Here Come My Train:  Traveling Themes in Ma Rainey’s Blues

V.  Preaching the Blues:  Spirituality and Self-Consciousness

VI.  Up In Harlem Every Saturday Night:  Blues and the Black Aesthetic

VII.  When A Woman Loves A Man:  Social Implications of Billie Holiday’s Love Songs

VIII.  Strange Fruit:  Music and Social Consciousness

Lyrics to Songs Recorded by Gertrude “Ma” Rainey

Lyrics to Songs Recorded by Bessie Smith

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