The author of "Women, Race and Class" suggests that "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday represent a black working-class, feminist ideology and historical consciousness. Davis' illuminating analysis of the songs performed by these artists provides readers with a compelling and transformative understanding of their musical and social contributions and of their relation to both the African-American community and American culture. of photos.
Women's blues have been largely misunderstood by critics. Overlooked, Davis shows, has been the way their candor and bravado laid the groundwork for an aesthetic that broke through the constraints of middle-class respectability. Through meticulous transcriptions of all the extant lyrics of Rainey and Smith — published here in their entirety for the first time — Davis demonstrates how the blues extend beyond a musical tradition to reveal an alternative to mainstream American values. An indispensable contribution to American history, as boldly insightful as the women Davis praises, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism is an intellectual triumph.
Davis studied at Brandeis University and at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. She lives in California and teaches Black Philosophy and Aesthetics as well as courses in women's studies.