Thursday, December 18, 2014

Father of the Blues: W.C. Handy

W.C. Handy: Father Of The Blues

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There's good reason that William Christopher Handy, was known as "The Father of The Blues." Handy began his life on November 16, 1873 in Florence, Alabama and grew up to become a composer and musician, as well as one of the most influential American songwriters. Contrary to some popular belief, he did not invent the blues. It originated from informal work songs, spirituals, shouts and chants of the African-American community. But Handy took these things, worked them, refined them, and molded them into 
a music genre that became a dominant force in American music. It's only fitting that he should be known as the Patriarch of the genre. Blues is a part of sub-genres country blues, west coast blues, Chicago blues, jazz and music of the 70s up to the present time with blues, rock, and even hiphop.

His Story in His Own Words

In the book "Father of the Blues," Handy tells his own story of being a sensitive child whose Father was a minister who did not approve of "devil" music and theater. The only music he approved were the gospel and chorus songs performed in church. Only after Handy had proven his talent and made his mark in the music world did his Father grudgingly accept his "calling." In addition, Handy was involved in another struggle, that of being a black entertainer in the 1900s in the Southern states. But he persevered, playing wherever he could and writing songs when inspiration struck.

His First $100 Earned From Writing Music

He made his first $100 from writing "Memphis Blues" and had his own orchestra during the First World War. Later, Handy became successful in New York as a publisher and song writer, giving voice to other talented entertainers. This extraordinary tale covers the entire story of American music, from the popular songs of the South through rag and jazz. His influence on modern day music can't be denied. It's obvious that if there had never been a W.C. Handy, it's likely there would never have been the wide range of music genres we enjoy today, including rock 'n roll.

His Poster Should Have A Place Of Honor

If you're a blues musician or a lover of blues, this poster would likely be placed on a wall in honor of the man who started it all, W.C. Handy. He was a legend in his own time among his own people, and eventually to the world. Other artists began singing and playing his songs, such as Louis Armstrong, Etta James, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Bessie Smith, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Guitar virtuoso Chet Adkins, and many others. St. Louis Blues and other works of Handy's are considered blues classics, and all blues aficionados respect them.


Father of the Blues: An Autobiography (Da Capo Paperback)

Poster of W.C. Handy
Available for Purchase From Amazon
At This Link:  WC Handy

Tracing The Rise of "The Devil's Music"

American Blues was once considered "The Devil's Music," and was wrongly attributed as bad habits passed on to the white community from the black community. A ridiculous theory at its best, and racial bias at its worst. Tracing the history of blues through the years since it began, it's obvious that human beings are all alike no matter their color. And they all love good music. American Blues is now a genre recognized around the world, due to W.C. Handy.

W.C. Handy and His Orchestra

W.C. Handy's Orchestra from 1914.  Handy was a musician before his time. He believed that in learning about and working his craft, he could better himself and other musicians. Learning from his example, many other black performers and musicians were encouraged and eventually prospered. Today our world is vastly enriched by their talent.

W.C. Handy's Orchestra from 1918

Statue of W.C. Handy on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee

The "Father of the Blues" W. C. Handy is memorialized in the W.C. Handy Performing Arts Park on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Music Festivals and spontaneous jam sessions are often held here at the feet of the master of the genre. But it's not just there that he is recognized as his fame spread all over the world.

There are books by and about W.C. Handy in this list from Amazon. His history and talent are worth reading about, so make your choice, or take them all, and find out about this wonderful brand of American music.

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