Watch This Before You See Ma Rainey's Black Bottom | Netflix

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Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), her ambitious horn player (Chadwick Boseman), and the white management determined to control the legendary “Mother of the Blues.” Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, directed by George C. Wolfe. Starring Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, Michael Potts, Glynn Turman, Dusan Brown and Taylour Paige. Coming to Netflix December 18.

Director George C. Wolfe’s adaptation of playwright August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is many things. It’s a testament to the power of the blues. It’s a story about artists who refuse to compromise or let social prejudices define them. It’s a showcase for some of the finest actors in Hollywood, and it’s full of all the human drama and excitement you’ve come to expect from the talent involved. Here’s everything you should know before you watch Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

While the play and film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a fictionalized story about a Blues singer and her band, Ma Rainey was a real life musician.

During her heyday, Ma Rainey went by many names, but she’s remembered as the “Mother of the Blues,” honoring her status as one of the very first Black women to become a professional blues singer, as well as one of the first blues vocalists whose voice was immortalized in recordings.

In the first five years of her career, Rainey lent her voice to over 100 records, cementing her legacy as one of the founding matriarchs of the genre and paving the way for the countless blues, soul, and R&B singers who followed.

While Rainey passed away in 1939, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and is still widely remembered for her flamboyant costumes, her elaborate stage shows, and her powerful, raw singing voice. She’s also known for frank and evocative lyrics, which didn’t shy away from expressing Rainey’s sexuality or her Southern upbringing.

Meet the Mother of the Blues | 0:00
Big characters, big performances | 1:29
A dream team behind the camera | 3:08

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Watch This Before You See Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom | Netflix
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Tensions and temperatures rise at a Chicago music studio in 1927 when fiery, fearless blues singer Ma Rainey joins her band for a recording session.

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