Jazz musician, composer. Born– November 16, 1873, Florence. Parents– Charles Bernard and Elizabeth (Brewer) Handy. Married– Elizabeth Virginia Price, 1898. Children–six.  Married (2) Irma Louise Logan, 1953. Teacher in Birmingham for two years; laborer in Bessemer iron works, itinerant bricklayer and music teacher. Organizer and leader of a band which he took to the Chicago World’s Fair; leader and cornetist for Mahara’s Colored Minstrels. Helped form Pace and Handy Music Company in Memphis in 1913; it became Handy Brothers Music company in the 1920’s, and is still in operation today.  In the 1909 mayoral election in Memphis, Tennessee, Handy’s band was hired by candidate Edward Crump. Handy’s campaign song, “Mr. Crump,” was slightly changed to become “Memphis Blues.” Writer of “St. Louis Blues,” “Beale Street Blues,” “Mississippi Blues,” and more than sixty other songs. Known as “Father of the Blues.” “St. Louis Blues” is one of the most frequently recorded American musical compositions.  Handy has been widely honored; a postage stamp with his picture appeared in 1969; his home in Florence is maintained as a museum; Florence holds an annual W.C.Handy Music Festival in his honor. Died March 28, 1958.


Encyclopedia of Alabama.


Father of the Blues. New York; Macmillan, 1941.

Negro Authors and Composers of the United States. New York; Handy Brothers Music Co., 1938; rpt 1976.


Blues, an Anthology. New York; A. C. Boni, 1926.

Unsung Americans Sung.  Handy Brothers, 1946.


A collection of the papers of W.C.Handy is held by the W. C. Handy Museum in Florence.