W.C Handy

Parker Smith, Rachel Wienecke

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Early Life

Handy was born November 16th 1873, at Florence Ala. He was a son of former slaves. He was Educated at Fisk University. When he was 15 he left home to work in a traveling minstrel show, but he soon returned when his money ran out. His chosen instrument was the Cornet. Handy also drifted around the country searching for multiple jobs. Eventually he settled in Memphis, Tennasse.


Handy studied music in both public schools and college. Later, he Conducted his own Orchestra from 1903 too 1921. In 1890 he played Cornet with, and became bandleader of, a famous touring show, Mahara's Minstrels.

Interesting Facts

  • Completely lost vision after fall from subway platform.
  • He worked as a school teacher.
  • Was a important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a black cultural movement
  • Started his own band which toured the south for many years
  • Became band leader of famous tourist show
  • Performed Ragtime, light classics and marches
  • Wrote a biography "Father of the Blues"
  • Handy wrote an election campaign song for the mayor of Memphis, Edward H.

His Music

  • "St. Louis Blues" - 1914
  • "Memphis Blues" - 1909
  • "Beale Street Blues" - 1916
  • "Careless Love"
  • "Yellow Dog"
  • "Old Miss Rag"
  • "Mr.Crump"
  • "Bunch O Blues"
  • "Way Down Where The Blues Begin"
  • "Joe Turner Blues" - 1915


  • 78 RPM Collection
  • Classics meet Pops
  • W.C Handy's Memphis Blues Band