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Black Women in Blues

A survey of the foremothers of Blues Music in the United States of America. Gain insight into their contribution to the music of artists like Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and SZA along with the performance of sexuality that many Black women experience and imple

This Guide as developed by Nya Hardaway, Library Intern, Summer 2018.


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame regards 1920-1947 as the years of the "American Foremothers."  These women were champions of humanity and fought for equality through their songs and performances.  Many people neglect the contribution of Black women to American culture generally. Concerning Blues music, Black men are typically credited for their role in developing and introducing the genre to mainstream culture.  Nevertheless, women were at the forefront of establishing their voices and leaving their mark on American history and American popular culture. This LibGuide highlights Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, two women who showcased empowerment and were the Founding Mothers of Blues. 

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Foremothers of Blues

Also see the tabs "Bessie Smith" and "Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey," for more information on the first two listed founding mothers of Blues.