Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom accounts for the internal battle of wills which the legendary “Mother of the Blues” waged for control of her music, its identity, and her struggle for self-determination in the face of overwhelming odds.
Starring Sharon D Clarke as Ma Rainey herself, the play bursts with the sound and soul of her music, and sets her in Chicago, 1927, at the recording studio where this contention reached its climax.
Using every trick in the book she has accumulated over years of ill-treatment, legal scraps and rip-off deals, Ma Rainey fights to retain control of her music against the desires of her record producers. Above all, the song that bears her name, ‘Black Bottom’, must be recorded her way.
But danger is posed by the sheer ambition of the band’s swaggering young trumpeter, Levee, who plans on catapulting the band beyond the clutches of Ma Rainey into the jazz age.
A powerful account of self-determination and drive.