Tuesday, December 25, 2007
HANDY, W. C.
HANDY, W. C. William Christopher Handy was born in 1873 in Florence, Alabama. Although his sternly religious parents were opposed to popular music on the grounds that it was demoniacally inspired, Handy overcame this obstacle and went on to become one of the most significant individuals in the history of American music. During his early career, he was a cornet soloist with Mahara's Minstrels, a popular Chicago-based band; a music teacher at Alabama A. & M. College in Huntsville; and the leader of his own brass band in Memphis, Tennessee. His fame, however, rests largely on his innovative musical compositions which ushered in the "blues" era during the early twentieth century. Tunes such as "Memphis Blues" (1912), "St. Louis Blues" (1914) and "Beale Street Blues" (1917) ensured that W. C. Handy would forever be known as the "Father of the Blues." During the 1920's, Handy became a music publisher in New York, remaining active in this and in other musically-related activities until his death in 1958.