Bringing The World Home To You

© 2022 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Branford Marsalis' 'Ma Rainey' Score Makes 100-Year-Old Blues Sound Relevant Today

There has been plenty to discuss since the release of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom last year. It tells the story of August Wilson and other Black Americans in the 20th century who fled the south and headed north. The film was adapted from a play by Wilson, directed by George C. Wolfe, with Denzel Washington as producer. It also stars Viola Davis as Ma Rainey — the mother of the blues — and the late Chadwick Boseman. But there's more to the film than its star players, especially once the music in the film takes flight.

Saxophonist and bandleader Branford Marsalis was tasked with scoring the film, to make the blues of 100 years ago sound true to the era but still relevant now.

Our New Orleans correspondent Gwen Thompkins talks to Branford Marsalis after a performance of songs from Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Watch the performance — including a special opening number — via the video player and hear the complete session via the audio player.

Copyright 2021 XPN. To see more, visit XPN.

More Stories