Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

2 min read

| By Traci Cothran |

What I love most about our Gale resources is the depth of the content. There’s always something new to learn—usually, a lot of things!

This point was driven home when I did a few searches of “Ma Rainey” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” in our Gale content after seeing the new film on TV, which stars Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis. They’re both spectacular in this adaptation of the August Wilson play, as are the set designs and costumes. It’s difficult to watch Boseman’s performance and understand that his thinness was due to his fatal illness and know that this was his last amazing performance. Yet he shines.

What I didn’t realize was how many times the play has been done on major stages. By using Gale’s deep resources, you can find reviews and commentary about the other shows, going back decades, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett, and others.

You can also read up on playwright August Wilson’s life and career, view a summary of the play, and read some of Ma Rainey’s actual song lyrics as well as a poem about her written by Sterling A. Brown. And of course, you can find current reviews and commentary on this Netflix production and learn about Boseman’s and Davis’s careers.

There may be other gems—log in to your library’s resources and see what you can find!

Banner image source: Netflix


Traci J. Cothran


Meet the Author


Traci Cothran is the director of Gale’s K12 content team as well as a history buff, so she can often be found watching videos from the early 1900s in Gale In Context: World History.  

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