Ma Rainey's Lesbian Licks

Rediscovery of a lesbian classic

Gertrude Rainey, better known as Ma Rainey (1886 – 1939), was one of the earliest professional blues singers and among the first generation of such singers to record. Billed as Mother of the Blues, she did much to develop and popularize the form. Ma Rainey lived the unconventional life of a blues diva and broached topics in her music that were taboo in other forms of musical expression. Although married, Rainey indulged in occasional bisexual escapades and wrote one number, “Prove It on Me Blues,” that daringly celebrated such liaisons. “Ma Rainey’s Lesbian Licks” is a contemporary cover of this song performed by Tia Carroll, an award-winning vocalist, and other Bay Area musicians. Beyond the brio of the performance itself, “Prove It On Me Blues” is placed in its complex historical context by an imaginative use of the newspaper ad that was developed to sell the record back in 1928.


"Ma Rainey’s Lesbian Licks constitutes a four-minute education about blues great Ma Rainey, with a performance of her soulful lesbian paean, “Prove It On Me Blues.” It leaves the viewer wanting more—more information about the legend, and more of her music."

           --Metro Weekly Review, October 16, 2006


"Best Music Video" -- Northern CA Film Festival

Official Selection

Frameline: San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

San Francisco Black Film Festival

ReelHEART International Film Festival (Toronto)

Reeling: The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Film Fesival

Mid-Atlantic Black Film Festival

Oakland International Film Festival

Queens International Film Festival

Memphis International Film Festival

Queer Black Cinema Film Festival (NYC)

Pan African Film Festival (Los Angeles)

London (England) Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

London (Ontario) Lesbian Film Festival

New Fest (NYC)

Sacramento Intl. Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Reel Affirmations (Washington, DC)

Northern California Film Festival

New Filmmakers (NYC)

Out on Film (Atlanta)