Multimedia Collection

Wild Women Don't Have the Blues

58 minutes
ML3521 .W541 1989

The story of Ma Rainey, Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter, Ida Cox, and other pioneering blues women from early in the century are brought to life in Wild Women Don't Have the Blues. We learn of their vision and their struggle, their pain and their humor, their unflagging spirit, and most of all, their legendary music. The film compiles for the first time dozens of rare, classic renditions of the early blues to commentary by the "Queen of the Blues," Koko Taylor.

Ma Rainey, "Mother of the Blues," first put the worksongs of black fieldhands on stage in 1902. At the end of WWI, millions of African-Americans left the fields of the South to search for work in the factories of the North. The blues singers followed with their music ­ salty and melancholy, full of pain, humor and love. Audiences, black and white, rocked through the twenties to groundbreaking records like Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues" and movies like Bessie Smith's "St. Louis Blues." Wild Women recreates the gutsy stories of these pioneering women who left an indelible mark on the music and the heart of America.

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