Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Oct 5, 2011 - Social Science - 464 pages
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From one of this country's most important intellectuals comes a brilliant analysis of the blues tradition that examines the careers of three crucial black women blues singers through a feminist lens. Angela Davis provides the historical, social, and political contexts with which to reinterpret the performances and lyrics of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday as powerful articulations of an alternative consciousness profoundly at odds with mainstream American culture.
   The works of Rainey, Smith, and Holiday have been largely misunderstood by critics. Overlooked, Davis shows, has been the way their candor and bravado laid the groundwork for an aesthetic that allowed for the celebration of social, moral, and sexual values outside the constraints imposed by middle-class respectability. Through meticulous transcriptions of all the extant lyrics of Rainey and Smith−published here in their entirety for the first time−Davis demonstrates how the roots of the blues extend beyond a musical tradition to serve as a conciousness-raising vehicle for American social memory. A stunning, indispensable contribution to American history, as boldly insightful as the women Davis praises, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism is a triumph.
 

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User Review  - pinkcrayon99 - LibraryThing

Davis explains that the Blues genre belongs to women just as much as it does men. Davis stated that the Blues provided a space where women could express themselves in new ways. By analyzing the work ... Read full review

Blues legacies and Black feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this fascinating exploration, feminist scholar and social historian Davis reveals how these women defied the dominant culture by incorporating a critical social consciousness into their music ... Read full review

Contents

USED TO BE YOUR SWEET MAMA
3
MAMAS GOT THE BLUES
23
RIVALS GIRLFRIENDS AND ADVISORS
42
HERE COME MY TRAIN
66
BLAME IT ON THE BLUES
91
PREACHING THE BLUES
120
UP IN HARLEM EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT
138
WHEN A WOMAN LOVES A
161
NOTES
359
luosx
407
PERMISSIONS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
423
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Angela Y. Davis is Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness at the University of California and author of many books including Women, Race and Class and Are Prisons Obsolete? She is a much sought after public speaker and internationally known feminist scholar, prison abolitionist, and advocate for social justice.

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