Ma Rainey – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The ideology of conservatism rejects social change coming too fast. This includes “social conservatism” that views popular culture as being too liberal. That is, too unrestrained. A social conservative would lament the present day as lacking sexual mores.

But conservatism can also be criticized for looking too longingly on a staid, reserved past, that is part myth.

In other words, social conservatives may be all incensed about today’s twerking and booty shaking. But it’s not that new?

Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett… Ma Rainey, was born around 1896. Near a century ago, she had no problem singing lyrics embedded with racy double entendres:

All the boys in the neighborhood
They say your black bottom is really good
Come on and show me your black bottom
I want to learn that dance

Nor was Rainey some fringe performer. She was a professional blues singer. Rainey performed and recorded with Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins… these are household names in jazz.


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