W. C. Handy – memories in Memphis

We visited Memphis in March, my husband, brother and sister-in-law and I. While there I was fascinated with W.C. Handy the proclaimed Father of the Blues. His bronze statue sits in Handy Park, there are songs about him and songs by him. This musical master was born in Florence, AL and later wrote a myriad of songs many while living in Memphis from the turn of the century until 1918 when he moved his publishing company to New York and lived out the rest of his life there.

Handys musical influences were basically from the slave spirituals and the songs he heard while traveling through the deep south as he journeyed playing his music. He grew up the son of a minister who was also the son of a minister. He learned to play the organ and the cornet in secret because his father approved of only spiritual music.

Later he led a band in Kentucky then settled in Memphis and played his music on Beale Street an area that was then a primarily black residential area. While in Memphis besides reveling in the wonderful music I visited the W.C. Handy museum and while it is not a fancy place loved seeing where he lived with his wife and six children. The museum is a little shotgun house that doesn’t take long to go through but holds an amazing amount of memories.

W. C. Handy and his blues kicked off an entire genre of music from rock and roll to jazz. Blues is considered one of the only truly American roots music types. I loved Memphis and I loved W.C. Handy everywhere I saw and heard him.

For more information log onto www.wchandymemphis.org

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