Women Behind The Blues

Ruth Brown and Mai Cramer
Photo copyright � Peter M. Ward

Mai Cramer   1947 - 2002

We are unhappy to report that on February 25, 2002, not long after this interview took place, Mai Cramer died of breast cancer.  We are deeply saddened by the loss.  She was a pioneer, and one of the most dedicated women behind the Blues.

What follows is the original text of our feature interview...

Mai Cramer has been the producer and host of "Blues After Hours" on WGBH 89.7 FM in Boston, Massachusetts since 1978. She received the "Keeping the Blues Alive" award from the Blues Foundation in 1995. Mai has also produced "The Blues Channel" on the Web at http://www.realblues.com since 1995 where she maintains a robust calendar of blues events in New England, monthly interviews with blues musicians, the Blues Gals comic, contests, essays from blues fans, and more.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in New York City at the end of the "baby boom." My mother was a classical pianist. I "found" blues when I was in high school and became an avid record collector. I fell into radio in 1975 when some radio friends in Pittsfield, Massachusetts wanted a blues show. They had no blues records of their own. So my radio career was born. I was one of the first women on the radio in Pittsfield and one of the first (handful!) of women on the radio when I moved to Boston in 1978.

What do you do "behind the blues?"

Every so often, I emcee a festival or some other blues performance. The next one I'm scheduled to do is to introduce Bobby Bland at an annual formal event in Boston called "Steppin' Out." I get many email requests from around the world for information about blues. I answer them all. In the past couple of years, I've been asked to give some talks on blues. It's tons of work to prepare but lots of fun to present. I have also written liner notes for a few CDs.

My main day jobs over the years have been college professor and training consultant.

B.B. King with Mai Cramer
Photo copyright � Peter M. Ward

What motivates you to keep going?

The absolute joy of creating a set of music in which the sum is greater than the parts, of being in the flow with the sound and rhythm, the art of performing.

Being blessed by the grateful response of so many kind listeners.

What are your views of women in the business?

My sense is that women are accepted as equals in public radio but I don't think we are taken as seriously as men in most areas of business, blues or otherwise. The VP of Radio at WGBH is a woman.

What are your future plans?

To keep doing "Blues After Hours" as long as I can and to try to get funding for two national blues series I am working on.


Other Women Behind The Blues Interviews

Jackie Maddix

Beverly Howell

Wendy "Scooter" Weber

Mae Smith

Featured Artists Historical Profiles Ladies Links
Gospel Divas The Guestbook About Lea Gilmore
  Women Behind The Blues  

© 2002 Lea A. Gilmore and P.W. Fenton, All Rights Reserved.