Joplin in 1970
Rainey in 1917
Joplin in 1960 as a graduating senior in high school
Rainey and the band
Joplin (seated) with Big Brother and the Holding Company, c. 1966–1967 photograph Bob Seidemann
Joplin performs with Tom Jones on This Is Tom Jones in late 1969
Newspaper review of Joplin's 1969 concert at Vets Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio includes the fact that before it started she walked to the lobby and watched audience members arrive.
Janis Joplin performing at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island in July 1968
Joplin photographed by Jim Marshall in 1969, one year before her death

As a teenager, Joplin befriended a group of outcasts, one of whom had albums by blues artists Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Lead Belly, which Joplin later credited with influencing her decision to become a singer.

- Janis Joplin

Her signature low and gravelly voice sung with Rainey's gusto and authoritative style inspired imitators from Louis Armstrong, Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt among others.

- Ma Rainey
Joplin in 1970

2 related topics

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American blues singer Ma Rainey (1886–1939), the "Mother of the Blues"

Blues

Music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African-American work songs and spirituals.

Music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African-American work songs and spirituals.

American blues singer Ma Rainey (1886–1939), the "Mother of the Blues"
A minor pentatonic scale;
Musicologist John Lomax (left) shaking hands with musician "Uncle" Rich Brown in Sumterville, Alabama
Sheet music from "Saint Louis Blues" (1914)
Bessie Smith, an early blues singer, known for her powerful voice
A typical boogie-woogie bass line
John Lee Hooker
Blues legend B.B. King with his guitar, "Lucille"
Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1983
Italian singer Zucchero is credited as the "Father of Italian Blues", and is among the few European blues artists who still enjoy international success.
Eric Clapton performing at Hyde Park, London, in June 2008
Duke Ellington straddled the big band and bebop genres. Ellington extensively used the blues form.
The music of Taj Mahal for the 1972 movie Sounder marked a revival of interest in acoustic blues.

These observations coincide more or less with the recollections of Jelly Roll Morton, who said he first heard blues music in New Orleans in 1902; Ma Rainey, who remembered first hearing the blues in the same year in Missouri; and W.C. Handy, who first heard the blues in Tutwiler, Mississippi, in 1903.

The British and blues musicians of the early 1960s inspired a number of American blues rock fusion performers, including the Doors, Canned Heat, the early Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, The J. Geils Band, Ry Cooder, and the Allman Brothers Band.

Smith in 1936

Bessie Smith

American blues singer widely renowned during the Jazz Age.

American blues singer widely renowned during the Jazz Age.

Smith in 1936
Smith in 1936
Portrait of Smith by Carl Van Vechten
Smith's death certificate

She began touring and performed in a group that included Ma Rainey, and then went out on her own.

Smith's grave remained unmarked until a tombstone was erected on August 7, 1970, paid for by the singer Janis Joplin and Juanita Green, who as a child had done housework for Smith.