top of page
  • Writer's picture

W.C. Handy - The Father of Blues

W.C. Handy, born William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958), was an influential African American composer and musician, often referred to as the "Father of the Blues." He was a skilled cornet player, band leader, and composer who helped to popularize the blues as a distinct musical genre in the early 20th century.

Handy was born in Florence, Alabama, and grew up in a musical family. He trained as a classical musician but became enamored with the blues and its unique expressiveness. He traveled extensively throughout the Mississippi Delta and other southern regions, absorbing the sounds of African American folk music.

Some of Handy's most famous compositions include "St. Louis Blues," "Memphis Blues," and "Beale Street Blues." These pieces played a significant role in introducing blues music to a wider audience, both in the United States and internationally. Handy's contributions to American music earned him recognition as one of the most important figures in the development of the blues genre.

In addition to his musical talents, Handy was also a prolific author, penning an autobiography titled "Father of the Blues," in which he chronicled his life and experiences in the music industry. His legacy continues to be celebrated, and his compositions remain influential in the world of jazz and blues music.

Check out a complete timeline to African American music history!

24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page