Ma Rainey’s Net Worth: How Much Did The Singer Make?

ma rainey net worth
Ma Rainey

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey successfully went on to become one of the first African-American women to not only sang but also recorded blues music. Her contributions to the genre have been enormous, and her fame at the height of her career cannot be overlooked. Ma carved out a name for herself with her dynamic stage appearance, vivid clothes, and “moaning” style of singing. In the 1920s, however, she was subjected to open sexism and bigotry. Nonetheless, she was a trailblazer in her own right, as documented in ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.’ If you’re curious to learn more about Ma Rainey’s net worth and income sources, we’ve got you covered.

Gertrude Pridgett was Ma Rainey’s birth name. She was born in Columbus, Georgia, on April 26, 1886. She was a legendary blues singer who was dubbed the “Mother of the Blues” and regarded as the first great professional blues artist. While the majority of sources claim she was born on April 26, 1886, in Columbus, Georgia, others claim she was born in September 1882 in Alabama. Gertrude Pridgett made her first public appearance at the Springer Opera House in Columbus when she was 14 years old in a local talent event called “Bunch of Blackberries.” 

Ma Rainey’s Net Worth:

Ma Rainey’s net worth was approximately estimated to be close to $3 million at the time of her death. Some rumors claim it might be as much as $13 million, but based on what we’ve discovered, the initial estimate appears to be more realistic. She had amassed this sum as a result of her successful musical career. Ma Rainey ran three theatres in Columbus, Georgia, until her death. The Liberty Theater, the Airdrome, and The Lyric were the three venues. When Ma Rainey was a teenager, she began acting in black minstrel performances. She married William “Pa” Rainey when she was 18, and the two went on to perform together.

ma rainey net worth
Ma Rainey

They worked for Rabbit’s Foot Company (at the time, a popular act) before forming Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues, in 1914. The power couple eventually divorced, and she went on to seek a single career. It should come as no wonder that Ma’s reputation and popularity soared as the blues gained in popularity. Despite her popularity and celebrity, the famed blues singer died of a heart attack in Rome, Georgia, in 1939. She received numerous awards after her death.

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How Did She Begin Her Career?

Rainey started her career as a performer at a talent event when she was 12 years old in Georgia. She was first introduced to blues music in 1902. The Alabama Fun Makers Company was formed by her and her husband, but in 1906, it merged with the larger Rabbit’s Food Company. Rainey claims she first heard “Blues Music” when performing in Missouri one night when a youngster introduced her to a tragic song about a man abandoning a woman.

Rainey debuted in the music industry in 1923, after being founded by Paramount Records’ J. Mayo Williams. Her first eight recordings were done in Chicago when she got a deal with Paramount. Over the next five years, she recorded over 100 more songs, pushing her success even further south. Among her partners were Joe “King” Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Becher, and Pops Foster.

Her Contract Was Terminated By Paramount Later:

Live vaudeville began to diminish in the late 1920s as radio and records became more popular. Her career was not affected, but it was the start of Ma’s downfall. She continued to record for Paramount and used the proceeds from her tours to buy a bus bearing her name. Her contract with Paramount was canceled in 1928 as her blues style fell out of favor. She then went to Georgia, where she ran three theatres until her death, the Lyric, the Airdome, and the Liberty Theatre.

ma rainey net worth
Ma Rainey

In 1939, Ma died of a heart attack at the age of 53. Ma Rainey was an important figure in blues music. In 1983, Ma Rainey was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame. In 1990, Ma was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Ma went on theatre owners booking Association (TOBA) tour in the South and Midwest in 1924. The Wildcats Jazz Band, compiled by Thomas Dorsey, accompanied her on stage.

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