Days Gone By - stories from the past

Happy Birthday William Christopher Handy born November 16, 1873!

William Christopher Handy was born November 16, 1873 in Florence, Alabama to parents Elizabeth Brewer and Charles Barnard Handy. His father was the pastor of a small church in Guntersville, in northeast central Alabama.


W. C. Handy was born in a log cabin that was built by his grandfather William Wise Handy who became an African Methodist Episcopal minister after emancipation.

On March 31, 1916, the people of Florence, Alabama were looking forward to a performance by a local native of Florence, W. C. Handy “the Father of Blues”. Handy looked like a preacher or a professor, but William Christopher Handy was an international star.

WCHandy

W. C. Handy (Wikipedia)

According to the Times Daily, Handy and his orchestra were appearing for one night in the auditorium of Burrell Normal School on Tuesday, April 4th at 8 p.m.

W. C. Handy news article

Native of Florence, Alabama

William Christopher Handy was born November 16, 1873, in Florence, Alabama to parents Elizabeth Brewer and Charles Barnard Handy. His father was the pastor of a small church in Guntersville, in northeast central Alabama. W. C. Handy was born in a log cabin that was built by his grandfather William Wise Handy who became an African Methodist Episcopal minister after emancipation.

W.C. Handy was born in this small log cabin in Florence, Alabama on November 16, 1873

W.C. Handy was born in this small log cabin in Florence, Alabama on November 16, 1873 (Carol Highsmith – Libray of Congress)

Instruments of the devil

Even though Handy’s father believed that musical instruments were tools of the devil, Handy secretly bought secretly his first guitar from money he saved by picking berries and nuts. When his father discovered the guitar, he made William take it back and enrolled him in organ lessons, but Handy did not continue the organ lessons. Instead, he bought a cornet and joined a local band without informing his parents.

08442vW.C. Handy was born in this small log cabin in Florence, Alabama on November 16, 1873

Back of W. C. Handy log cabin in Florence, Alabama (Carol Highsmith – Library of Congress)

Eventually, Handy made his way to Birmingham where he briefly taught school. The pay for teachers was very low so he quit this position and found industrial work at a pipe works plant in Bessemer. In his spare time, he organized the Lauzetta Quartet.

Toured for many years

At the age of 23, Handy became a band-master of the Mahara’s Colored Minstrels. The group toured America for three years. Handy continued to tour and play with several bands as he traveled throughout the Midwest and the South, learning about the African-American folk music that would become known as the blues. By 1902, he was married and settled in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

W. C. handy statue in florence

Handy statue in Florence, Alabama (Carol Highsmith – Library of Congress)

“Handy worked during the period of transition from ragtime to jazz. Drawing on the vocal blues melodies of African-American folklore, he added harmonizations to his orchestral arrangements. His work helped develop the conception of the blues as a harmonic framework within which to improvise. With his “Memphis Blues” (published 1912) and especially his “St. Louis Blues” (1914), he introduced a melancholic element, achieved chiefly by the use of the “blue” or slightly flattened seventh tone of the scale, which was characteristic of African American folk music.”

Became a successful wealthy man

When W. C. Handy died March 28, 1958, in New York, he was a wealthy man, living in a comfortable Tudor home north of New York City in the affluent suburb of Yonders. His autobiography, Father of the Blues, was published in 1941. The log cabin Handy was born in has been preserved and is located in downtown Florence, Alabama. Each year the W. C. Handy Music Festival is held in Florence, Alabama to honor their famous native. The 2017 Festival was held July 21st through July 30th.

SOURCES

Check out genealogy books and novels by Donna R. Causey

WHERE DO I START? Hints and Tips for Beginning Genealogists with On-line resources includes 81 questions to ask your parents and grandparents before it’s too late. 

 


See larger image
Additional Images:

Where Do I Start?: HINTS and TIPS for BEGINNING GENEALOGISTS with ONLINE RESOURCE


Features: Where Do I Start
By (author): Donna R Causey
List Price: $6.95 USD
New From: $6.95 USD In Stock

(Visited 2,143 times, 3 visits today)

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me
All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .
For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

Tags:

4 comments

    1. Jackson Ulmer

      Wow that’s actually pretty cool. I skipped over the W.C. Handy museum when I was last there. I’ll have to check it out next time.

  1. Faye Jones

    Happy birthday to W.C. Handy and Rest In Peace!!

  2. David Ritch

    Grew up just down the road from there

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *