As Ma Rainey, Viola Davies reveals why she could ‘never stand no silence’

She was chosen by providence to deliver the blues. She had received a special gift capable of lifting hearts buckled by the prevailing conditions of an era. As Ma Rainey, Viola Davies found the blues because she could ‘never stand no silence.’ The blues did not allow silence unnerve her. It did not allow the silence frighten her with the many dark images of oppression and racial tension. The awareness of the constant tension meant she ‘always got to have some music going on in her head somewhere.’ It was the demonstrably therapeutic way to ‘keep things balanced.’

But how did music ‘keep things balanced’ and ‘fill things up’ at the same time? Wasn’t that some contradiction? Davies does not care about contradictions because both positions cohere in her books.

Besides, she is not bothered about those troubled by her seeming contradictions. What the world needs is ’more music.’ And more understanding about the blues. Those who ‘hear it come out but don’t know how it got there,’ must pay close attention to what the blues mean and why it is her privilege and honor to perform the moving sounds.

The blues is ‘life’s way of talking.’ And telling those yet to understand that those who sing the blues don’t sing to feel better’ as some may have supposed. They sing the blues because ‘that’s a way of understanding life.’

For Davies, the blues are helpers. They ‘help you get out of bed in the morning.’ The blues provide good company. For ‘You get up knowing you ain’t alone.’ That ‘There’s something else in the world.’ The blues are also enhancers because those who listen to the blues know ‘something’s (value, recognition, worth, insight, pleasure, etc) been added by the song.’

It’s why “this would be an empty world without the blues.’ And Davies does not want to see an empty world. So, she ‘try to take that emptiness and fill it up with something.’ Of course, she is humble enough to admit that she didn’t start ‘blues way of singing. Blues always been there.’ But so you know that contradictions and Davies are not far apart, you will soon see her proud side asserting itself, just after you had briefly glimpsed her humble side. “But if they wanna call me Mother of the Blues, that’s alright with me. It don’t hurt no one.’

Shall we give it up for the authentic Mother of Blues?

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