The Blues Foundation

Blues Hall of Fame - 007 - WC Handy

April 19, 2017

This week we learn about the "Father of The Blues," W.C. Handy.

Handy once said that he found his inspiration as a composer in the "sounds of the world around him" - nature, church, and the bustling city. His exquisitely trained ear and phonographic memory allowed him to recall and transcribe everthing he encountered. This ability paid off handsomely when Handy began tranlating the feel, scales, and phrasing of African American folk music into big band arrangements.

In 1909… infamous Memphis politician Boss Crump hired Handy to write a catchy song for his campaign. Sitting at Pee Wee's Saloon on Beale Street, Handy wrote the song "Mr. Crump" later changing the name and publishing the song as "Memphis Blues," ushering in a new era for popular music. It also launched Handy's music publishing empire  - positioning Handy as a crucial player in the formative era of the modern music industry.

This is his story.