Friday, July 22, 2011

W.C. Handy: The man behind the festival

By: Laura Ivie Staff Writer July 22, 2011

With all the festivities surrounding the Handy Festival, I thought it important to take a step back and remember the man the festival celebrates…William Christopher Handy.

W.C., as he was know, was born in a simple cabin in Florence on November 16, 1873, not more than a mile from the Tennessee River. Born just eight years after the end of the American Civil War, he entered the world in a time that was turbulent and experiencing hardship in the form of the Long Depression. Perhaps he was destined from birth to be the "Father of the Blues", a musical genre that roots itself in adversity, yet also draws from African chants, hymns, spirituals, work songs and rural life in general.

W.C. grew up a pastor's son and grandson, where an interest in music was not looked on favorably by his family or his church. He had the ability to visualize notes when he heard a bird song and could identify the individual whistles from the many riverboats that went up and down the Tennessee River. We call people with amazing musical talents prodigies and thank goodness for the music world he had a bit of a rebellious streak and went against his fathers wishes to pursue a musical career.

To be continued...

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