W.C. Handy

(1873 - 1958)

Through­out the 1890s, W.C. Handy played cornet in a traveling minstrel band, collecting blues songs he heard while on the road. In 1909 he settled in Memphis, where mayoral candidate E.H. Crump commissioned him to write a campaign song; Handy complied. The song was later retitled “Memphis Blues” and went on sale in 1912, one of the first twelve-­bar blues recorded on sheet music. In 1928 Handy became the first artist to perform blues music at Carnegie Hall.

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