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Handy, W. C. (William Christopher), 1873-1958



  • Existence: 1873-11-16 - 1958-03-28


W. C. Handy was a Black American composer who was the self-proclaimed “Father of the Blues” and composer of “The St. Louis Blues.” He is known for his work in popularizing the blues form and arranging and adapting it for mainstream audiences. Born November 16, 1873 in Florence, Alabama, he became a voice and music instructor at Teachers Agriculture and Mechanical College (later renamed Alabama A&M University) before becoming a blues composer.


Evans, David. "Handy, W(illiam) C(hristopher)." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 27 Nov. 2023. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.12322.

"W. C. Handy, Blues King, Dies at 84". Lewiston Evening Journal. March 28, 1958. p. A1.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Johns Hopkins University collection of African American history and culture

Identifier: MS-0845

The Johns Hopkins University collection of African American history and culture is an artificially assembled collection of printed materials, diaries, photographs, and other items created from 1800 to 1988.

Dates: 1800 - 1988

W. C. Handy letter to Joe Laurie, Jr., 1944-03-21

 File — Box 10: [Barcode: 31151034443865], Folder: 2
Scope and Contents This letter from American composer and trumpeter W. C. Handy to American vaudeville performer Joe Laurie, Jr. discusses the entertainment business and Handy's health following a 1943 accident that resulted in the loss of his sight. Handy mentions hearing Laurie perform on the radio and thanks him for tickets to an upcoming event. His letter, a reply to Laurie, references a list of names that included performers Sophie Tucker and Ted Lewis, saying that he "could say something good about every...
Dates: 1944-03-21