The Battle Of Wills Between Rainey And Sturdyvant, The White Owner Of The Recording Studio

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When it comes to themes, the main question in the play is whether the band will complete the recording session despite conflicts among various band members and the power struggles between Rainey and Sturdyvant, the white owner of the recording studio. The battle of wills between Rainey and Sturdyvant echoes the historical battle between capitalists and workers; only in this case, Rainey holds on to the goods (her music) that she produces until she gets what she wants from the white producer. It is only after her demands are met and she and her band members are paid that Rainey signs off on the contract. The power struggle between Levee and the other band members over whose version of Ma Rainey 's Black Bottom is recorded reflects a generational conflict defined by different attitudes towards music. Rainey and the band represent the older generation, preferring to play the song as they always have. Levee, the youngest band member, represents the new and ever changing generation of musicians who seeks a more improvisatory and jazz like version. The theme of power is also established through the examination of the relationship between black artists and the world of mass communications in the early twentieth century. This relationship mirrors the position of black people in the society at large—a society dominated by white racism. Wilson establishes this early in the play through a series of musical imagery and idiomatic language, in which he uses both the style

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