Along with Bessie Smith, Gertrude Ma Rainey has come to be recognised as one of the towering figures of early blues, pioneering the recording of blues by female artists during the earliest years of electric recording. Born in 1896, she became popular as a travelling minstrel, and during her touring across the southern states in the early years of the 20th century absorbed blues songs which she incorporated into her act. Turning to the vaudeville stage, she was heard in Chicago theatres and signed in 1924 by J. Mayo Williams at Paramount, for whom she recorded for the next five years, working solo, or with piano or guitar accompaniment, or more often with jazz ensembles, which were billed on record as her Georgia Jazz Band. Her accompanists during that time featured some of the luminaries of the early jazz scene, including Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins, Buster Bailey and Don Redman as well as blues musicians like Tampa Red, Blind Blake and Thomas Dorsey. This great-value 94-track 4-CD collection comprises all of the titles she recorded for Paramount during her career (she recorded more than one take of some titles, but we only include one of those versions), until the Wall Street Crash and the Depression put an end to her recording. It naturally features classics like See See Rider, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Stack O'Lee Blues and Jelly Bean Blues. It's a comprehensive showcase for one of the most important personalities of early blues.