The legendary “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey remains top of mind these days as a trailblazing performer and inspiration. The newest vehicle to keep the music icon at the forefront in the 21st Century is a half-hour television special tribute by Netflix in partnership with the GRAMMY Museum®.


An inspiring salute to the artist herself, Ma Rainey: Mother of the Blues takes a deeper look at the real Ma Rainey — an incredible musician and pioneer, way ahead of her time, who overcame obstacles dealing with rights to her music, her sexuality, and her worth as a female in the 1920’s struggling to keep her band together. The special follows Ma Rainey’s story from her traveling minstrel shows to becoming one of the most powerful women of her time.

Following its April 12th premiere on KCBS in Los Angeles, the Ma Rainey: Mother of the Blues special will be available to stream on COLLECTION:live™, the GRAMMY Museum’s official streaming platform, from April 13 through May 1. Keeping Rainey top of mind, Educators (through their relationship with the GRAMMY Museum), will have access to a treasure trove of materials about Ma Rainey and have the opportunity to host “History of the Blues” workshops, which will be taught to students throughout the school year.

Viewers can stream the multi-Oscar nominated film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. on Netflix,

The TV special features filmmakers Denzel Washington, Todd Black and George C. Wolfe; the SAG winner and Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis; music legends Bonnie Raitt, Branford Marsalis, Melissa Etheridge and Jimmy Jam; the Oscar-nominated hair, makeup, and costume team responsible for creating Ma’s distinctive look; and various cast members of the acclaimed Netflix film, which garnered lead actor SAG wins for Viola Davis and the Chadwick Boseman last weekend.


MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth. Adapted from two-time Pullitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, the film is directed by George C. Wolfe and adapted for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and is produced by Fences Oscar® nominees Denzel Washington and Todd Black. Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, Taylour Paige, and Dusan Brown co-star alongside GRAMMY® winner Branford Marsalis’ score.

Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Academy Award® winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives.

Socially Sparked
Ma Rainey Remains Top
Athol Fugard's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Film on Netflix

Ma Rainey is one trailblazing woman musician whose life’s work and story have Socially Sparked® our live and continue to do so well into the 21st century. Her story continues to teach us, inspire us and empower us.

The film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is nominated for five Oscars, including Best Actress (Viola Davis), Best Actor (Chadwick Boseman), Best Production Design (Karen O’Hara, Mark Ricker, Diana Stoughton), Best Costume Design (Ann Roth), and Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson, Sergio Lopez-Rivera). With their nomination, Neal and Wilson made history as the first Black women to be nominated in the makeup and hairstyling category. Best of luck at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony on April 25th! — Abbe is Socially Sparked! Tweet us @sosparkednews