W. C. Handy

William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was an American composer and musician[1] who referred to himself as the Father of the Blues.[2][3] Handy was one of the most influential songwriters in the United States.[4] One of many musicians who played the distinctively American blues music, Handy did not create the blues genre but was the first to publish music in the blues form, thereby taking the blues from a regional music style (Delta blues) with a limited audience to a new level of popularity.[4]

W. C. Handy
Handy in July 1941, photographed by
Carl Van Vechten
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Christopher Handy
Also known asFather of the Blues
Born(1873-11-16)November 16, 1873
Florence, Alabama, United States
OriginMemphis, Tennessee, United States
DiedMarch 28, 1958(1958-03-28) (aged 84)
New York City, New York, United States
GenresBlues, jazz
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • bandleader
  • teacher
Instrument(s)Trumpet
Years active1893–1948

Handy was an educated musician who used elements of folk music in his compositions. He was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which frequently combined stylistic influences from various performers.[3]


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