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Music in Columbus (MIC) exists to foster and promote traditional, contemporary and multicultural music in Columbus, Georgia. MIC seeks to strengthen and advance organizational and individual initiatives in all forms of music through education, networking, advocacy and professional and field development. LEARN MORE >>

Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Ma Rainey House now open!


Welcome to Ma's house
'Ma' Rainey Blues Museum opens for business

Blues legend and Columbus native Gertrude "Ma" Rainey lived in this house at 805 {FIFTH} Ave. from 1935-1939.
Photo by Joe Paull /
Blues legend and Columbus native Gertrude "Ma" Rainey lived in this house at 805 first Ave. from 1935-1939.
"Ma" Rainey recorded more than 90 records for Paramount Records.

The story of Gertrude Pridget "Ma" Rainey begins in this city and ends in this house.

After years of planning, fundraising, renovating and collecting, the "Ma" Rainey Blues Museum on [FIFTH] Avenue is finally open for business.

The yellow two-story home chronicles Rainey's groundbreaking career and shows her personal side.

Museum curator Fred Fussell said it's a fitting tribute to the Columbus-born singer known to many as the "Mother of the Blues."

"She was a groundbreaking recording artist back in the 1920s. She was one of the first women, one of the first blues musicians to record records," Fussell said.

Rainey bought the home at 805 {FIFTH} Ave. in 1935 and lived there until her death in 1939.

It's a comfortable space, with finished hardwood floors, large windows and creme-colored walls. A collection of furniture from the 1920s, including Rainey's own bed, dresser and piano, contribute to the domestic motif, but this space is undoubtedly a museum with its rooms full of memorabilia.

Visitors can read about all aspects of her career, including Rainey's debut at the Springer Opera House when she was just 14 years old and more than 90 of her recordings for the Paramount record label. Pictures and colorful posters show the singer in action. Records displayed in a wooden showcase reveal her influence on generations of performers. An antique Victrola plays Rainey's songs. A framed copy of Rainey's death certificate lists the legendary singer and business women's occupation as a housekeeper.

The "Ma" Rainey Blues Museum has been closed since summer while the home underwent additional remodeling and restoration. A ribbon-cutting ceremony in August announced the end of an almost decade-long restoration project, costing approximately $150,000 and responsible for bringing the home back from the brink of demolition.

Tour guide Lakeshia Gunn said the museum has seen 30 guests since its opening Thursday. New hours of operation and the promise of a unique collection of blues memorabilia should draw both music-lovers and historians to the home, Gunn said.

"I really do encourage people to come and check it out," Gunn said. "It's a very, very exciting thing."
Contact Lily Gordon at 706-576-6284

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