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An incredible rhythm-and-blues singer and songwriter, Big Mama Thornton recorded multiple hits in the early ’50s that have been credited with helping to jumpstart the decade’s new music craze known as rock ‘n’ roll. Think you know how Big Mama came to define the era? Then take the quiz!

1. Born on December 11, 1926, in Ariton, AL, Big Mama’s given name was _____ Thornton.
a. Norma Rae
b. Willie Mae
c. Sandra Day
d. Tammy Faye

 

2. Which instrument(s) did Big Mama play?
a. Harmonica
b. Drums
c. Both
d. Neither

 

3. Big Mama’s biggest hit, this song sold almost two million copies and was famously covered by Elvis Presley.
a. “All Shook Up”
b. “Jailhouse Rock”
c. “Don’t Be Cruel”
d. “Hound Dog”

 

4. Big Mama died at age ___ from heart and liver disease stemming from alcoholism.
a. 37
b. 47
c. 57
d. 67

 

5. Complete the following Big Mama quote: “White or Black. Rich or poor. If you ever _________ you have the right to sing the blues.”
a. had your heart broken
b. been a woman
c. lived this life
d. had someone do you wrong


By Emily Rems
Illustration by Julie Wilson

This piece originally appeared in the Summer 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today! 

 

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