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Meet the Singing Voice of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

David Lee/Netflix

Viola Davis transforms into the Mother of the Blues for her award-winning role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — and while she delivers a powerhouse performance, former Ikette and soul singer Maxayn Lewis is the unsung hero of the film.

It’s her voice that catapults Davis into a new realm. While it is Davis’ voice who belts out “These Dogs of Mine,” Lewis performs the rest of the numbers.

In an interview with Variety, Lewis explains how she came to sing in the Oscar-nominated film and got to lip-sync for Viola Davis.

How did you get to sing for Viola Davis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom?”

I’ve been working in the music industry for a long time and I’ve been recording with different people for years. I’ve done background and done vocals for different projects. Someone I’ve worked with gave “Ma Rainey” composer Branford Marsalis my phone number and he called me. He asked if I’d be interested in doing vintage blues. He never said it was a film or what it was about. It wasn’t until I said ‘I’d love to,’ that he filled me in....

Read the full Variety article here !


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