The time is 1927. The place is a run-down recording studio in Chicago. Ma Rainey, the legendary blues singer, is due to arrive with her entourage to cut new sides of old favorites. Waiting for her are her black musician sidemen, the white owner of the record company, and her white manager. What goes down in the session to come is more than music. It is a riveting portrayal of black rage, of racism, of the self-hate that racism breeds, and of racial exploitation.