DARC Ethiophile Chronicles
On November 16, 1873 The Father of the Blues, William Christopher Handy was born in Florence, Alabama.
The son and grandson of Episcopalian ministers, the young Handy showed his love of music at an early age, and was supported in his pursuits by his maternal grandmother. His father had other ideas, however, and was staunchly opposed to secular musicianship for his son, only agreeing to pay for organ lessons. Nonetheless, Handy held fast to his love and took up the cornet, along with cappella vocal lessons at school.
At the age of 15 Handy joined a minstrel show—a theatrical production of the time that featured African-American music, generally in caricatured form.
He also played with several bands and traveled throughout the Midwest and the South, learning more about the African-American folk music that would become known as the blues.
W.C. Handy was a composer, a musician and a music publisher who composed his own songs that would popularize the art form. He had several major commercial hits, including "St. Louis Blues," "Memphis Blues" and "Aunt Hagar's Blues."