Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1927 Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey. Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious cornet player Levee— who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry— spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives.
Branford Marsalis’ score punctuates this film that celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth. Adapted from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom features best actress/ actor award winning performances by Viola Davis as Ma Rainey and Chadwick Boseman.