Thomas Pridgett

Thomas Pridgett – Landscape Architect

Tom gained greater appreciation of nature’s designs through studying colorful photographs of wildflowers, plants, trees and landscapes he studied closely – particularly their effects upon each other. He became increasingly intrigued with this aspect.

Tom attended one of the premier landscape architecture universities in the country. As an apprentice with Richard B. Myrick & Associates, Tom assisted with projects including Dallas/Fort Worth Airport’s landscape master plan, North Park Mall development plans and gardens at Highland Park Methodist Church.

Early Life and Education

Gertrude Pridgett was often dubbed “Mother of Blues.” Her deep voice and captivating stage presence captivated crowds while selling hit records in early 20th-century Columbus, Georgia. Born April 26, 1886 to minstrel performers Thomas and Ella Pridgett (Thomas was known for performing as well), Gertrude began performing professionally herself by 1891 at just 17 years old.

She made her first public performance at 14 at Springer Opera House in Columbus and then went on to work with traveling vaudeville acts at tent shows and honky-tonks.

She came from a poor family and often performed for food to supplement their income. Later, she claimed to have been introduced to blues music around 1902. Later, after marrying Pa Rainey (also a traveling vaudeville performer), Ma Rainey adopted this name and continued working black minstrel shows up until 1920 when her career came to a close.

Professional Career

Following graduation, Tom apprenticed with landscape architects at various firms such as Richard B. Myrick Associates where he assisted on projects such as the grounds of LBJ Ranch, Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport and park master plans for Texas State Park System. SWA Group East invited Tom to open their first satellite office in Dallas TX as their head designer – another honor and experience gained under his tutelage.

Gertrude Pridgett Rainey, also known by her nickname Ma Rainey was born April 26th 1882 in Columbus Georgia to parents Thomas and Ella who both performed as minstrel show performers. Ma began performing from an early age as part of local talent shows and vaudeville acts.

Real estate developers like Poly-America needed a landscape architect for their upscale residential communities, they hired Tom to design outdoor living spaces, water gardens and bald cypress groves. He also led designs on iconic Dallas projects like Crescent Hotel, Fountain Place and Addison Streetscape.

Achievement and Honors

Thomas was both an Honors Fellow and Presidential Scholar at Elon University, completing an honor thesis using digital art to bring awareness of campus issues affecting students with disabilities. Additionally, he received the William and Paige Barnett Scholarship which honors honors students who demonstrate outstanding accomplishment in communication studies.

Davis will portray Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett, more commonly known as Ma Rainey – an influential blues singer credited for pioneering minstrel musicals during her life and after death. Davis will mark Ma Rainey’s third time appearing on screen following Whoopi Goldberg in Wilson’s Broadway revival play and Monique in HBO biopic Bessie.

Personal Life

Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett, popularly known as Ma Rainey, was an American blues singer-songwriter renowned for her deep voice and captivating stage presence during the first half of the 20th century. Many considered her to be “The Mother of Blues”.

Ma Rainey was born in Columbus, Georgia. From early on in her life she began singing and performing professionally – often appearing at talent shows or vaudeville acts that were popular at that time.

Rainey made her public debut at 14 in Columbus at Springer Opera House during a revue called Bunch of Blackberries at Springer Opera House. Both parents were minstrel performers; she followed in their footsteps performing traveling black minstrel shows until marrying William “Pa” Rainey himself, also an entertainer.

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