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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Prove It On Me Blues"

Thursday, January 12: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Ma Rainey's "Prove It On Me Blues" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

The so-called Mother of the Blues, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey was one of the form's most assertive female artists. She was a true pioneer who openly flouted convention and challenged mores on record and the road, performing at barrelhouses, juke joints, dance halls and speakeasies during the 1920s. If "Prove It On Me Blues" were released today, it may carry a parental advisory sticker for its racy content. Penned by Rainey and recorded with her Tub Jug Washboard Band for the Paramount label in 1928, the song recounts a lesbian love affair. Filled with explicit sexual references, it dares listeners to "find proof" of any immorality or illegality. "Prove It On Me Blues" was also deemed an attack on men, though Rainey was bi-sexual. In one verse she defiantly exclaims, "They must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men." Rainey wrote a number of provocative blues songs with frank, liberated lyrics that sang of her experiences  – and sexual liberation was a favored topic. "Prove It On Me Blues" lashed out prophetically against bigotry and male oppression. Rainey and other 1920s black female blues artists decried such hatred and inspired blues-loving rock singers like Janis Joplin to ...

continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll
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