Handy

Handy

[han-dee]
Handy, W. C. (William Christopher Handy), 1873-1958, American songwriter and band leader, b. Florence, Ala. Largely self-taught, Handy began his career as a cornet player in a minstrel show in 1896, and later organized various small bands. He was among the first to set down the blues, and with his Memphis Blues (1912), originally entitled Mr. Crump (1909), he rose to prominence. His songs, such as St. Louis Blues (1914) and Beale Street Blues (1917), are the classic examples of their type. In 1918 he moved from Memphis to New York City and remained active as a writer and publisher of music, in spite of growing blindness, until shortly before his death. His other songs include Yellow Dog Blues (1914), Joe Turner Blues (1915), and Loveless Love (1921). He was publisher of many of his own compositions and was author of several books, including Blues: An Anthology (1926) and his Collection of Negro Spirituals (1938).

See his autobiography, Father of the Blues (1941).

(born Nov. 16, 1873, Florence, Ala., U.S.—died March 28, 1958, New York, N.Y.) U.S. composer, cornetist, and bandleader known for integrating blues elements into ragtime, changing the course of popular music. Handy worked as a soloist and conductor with several bands around the turn of the century and became active as a music publisher in Memphis (1908) and later New York (1918). Handy's compositions, including “St. Louis Blues,” “Beale Street Blues,” and “Memphis Blues,” became favourites of singers and instrumentalists in the 1920s, helping to codify the blues as a framework within which to improvise.

Learn more about Handy, W(illiam) C(hristopher) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Nov. 16, 1873, Florence, Ala., U.S.—died March 28, 1958, New York, N.Y.) U.S. composer, cornetist, and bandleader known for integrating blues elements into ragtime, changing the course of popular music. Handy worked as a soloist and conductor with several bands around the turn of the century and became active as a music publisher in Memphis (1908) and later New York (1918). Handy's compositions, including “St. Louis Blues,” “Beale Street Blues,” and “Memphis Blues,” became favourites of singers and instrumentalists in the 1920s, helping to codify the blues as a framework within which to improvise.

Learn more about Handy, W(illiam) C(hristopher) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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