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William Christopher Handy The Godfather Of Blues

3558 words - 14 pages

William Christopher HandyHandy was an American black composer and compiler of "BLUES" music. Hewas born in Florence, Alabama. He was educated at the Negro Agricultural andMechanical College near Huntsville, Alabama. He was the son of former slaves. Hewas educated in the public schools and by his father and paternal grandfather, both ofwhom were clergymen. Handy was the first to bring the African- American blues to thegeneral publics attention with the publication of his MEMPHIS BLUES in 1912. Hebegan his musical career as a cornet soloist and bandmaster with minstrel shows;one of his earislst engagements was with the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicagoin 1893.Handy also founded a music publishing house and edited and wrote severalbooks , including the autobiographical Father of the Blues (1941). Originally, the blueswere a type of black folk song little known beyond the southern United States. Handy'ssongs brought the blues to international attention.Handy's career was rooted in popular music. He began his career in 1896 as a minstrelshow and vaudville corntist and bandleader and then became one of the first publishersof music by black composers.William Christopher Handy was born on Nov,16, 1873, in Florence, Ala, the sonof former slaves . As a 15-year-old he left home to work in a traveling minstrel show, buthe soon returned when his money ran out. He attended Teachers Agreicultural &Mechanical College in Huntsville, Alabama, and worked as a school teacher andbandmaster. In 1893, during an economic depression, he formed a quartet to perform atthe World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. For several years afterward he driftedaround the country working at different jobs. Eventually he settled in Memphas, Tenn.Although he lost his eyesight at age 30, after WW1 he conducted his ownorchestra from1903 intill 1921. His eyesight partially returned, but he became completely blind after afall from a subway platform in 1943.Handy wrote music during the period of transition from ragtime to jazz. The musiche had absorbed during his youth consisted of spirituals, work songs, and folk ballads.His own work consisted of elements of all these in addition to the popular ragtime andthe blues notes that he inserted. His work developed the conception of blues as aharmonic framework within which it was possible to improvise.In 1918 he moved to New York City, where he continued to work as a composerand music arranger for film, radio, and Broadway productions. Handy died in New YorkCity on March 28,1958.W. History - 052/22/97William Christopher HandyHandy was an American black composer and compiler of "BLUES" music. Hewas born in Florence, Alabama. He was educated at the Negro Agricultural andMechanical College near Huntsville, Alabama. He was the son of former slaves. Hewas educated in the public schools and by his father and paternal grandfather, both ofwhom were clergymen. Handy was the first to bring the African- American blues to thegeneral publics...

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