The man pictured here was a pioneering musician popularly known as the “Father of the Blues.”
Can you guess his name?
Answer: William Christopher “W.C.” Handy
William Christopher “W.C.” Handy (1873-1958) was an African-American composer and musician. Known as the “Father of the Blues,” Handy played the cornet and worked as a bandleader early in his career. As a songwriter, Handy was a trailblazer, blending African-American blues melodies with the popular music known as ragtime. Handy wrote the hit song “Memphis Blues” and had it published in 1912, but as a result of exploitative practices in the music publishing industry, Handy was unable to benefit financially from the song’s popularity. “Memphis Blues” is considered by many to be one of the first blues songs. In order to profit from his song-writing endeavors, Handy started his own music publishing business in Memphis, Tennessee with fellow songwriter Harry Pace. The Pace & Handy Music Company would later become the Handy Brothers Music Company after Pace left the business. Handy moved his publishing business to New York City in 1918 and continued to publish his own compositions and those of other composers. Handy was instrumental in promoting the blues and jazz music to the masses. He passed away in 1958 in New York City. His funeral attracted thousands of mourners.