Hear Ye, Hear Ye: The Mother of the Blues

Meanwhile, coming to Netflix is Academy Award winner Viola Davis in a starry turn as Ma Rainey, the woman née Gertrude Pridgett in Georgia in 1886 o.k.a. the Mother of the Blues, in George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, an adaptation of the eponymous 1982 August Wilson play.

Set in Chicago during a steamy afternoon in 1927, 12 years before her death, this is an award-bait-y Denzel Washington-produced snapshot of a contentious moment in Ma Rainey’s life. Tensions in the studio are rising to a boil, as her trumpeter, Levee (the late Chadwick Boseman – Wakanda Forever), challenges the singer again and again in the name of his own ambition. And, you know it, white management is, of course, karening around, trying to control the uncontrollable, Ma Rainey herself. (And, yo, Levee’s not playing: He wants it all – even, Ma Rainey’s new girlfriend. Just don’t ask him to look inward; he doesn’t like that too much.)

It’s a tale as old as time, that of the woman wrestling for control of her creative output and of herself and her creative spirit, huh. Except Ma Rainey is the only real person Wilson ever wrote into one of his plays, as well as his only queer character. So she def lived, but a biopic this is not. And now you know.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will premiere on Netflix on Dec. 18.

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