William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a blues composer and musician. He was widely known as the “Father of the Blues”. Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music. Handy was an educated musician who used folk material in his compositions. He was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which frequently combined stylistic influences from several performers. Full Biography
You can watch Nat King Cole sing a medley of W.C’s music here. Here are some of the awards, honors and memorials to W.C. Handy…..
- The Blues Music Award, widely recognized as the most prestigious award for blues artists was known as the W. C. Handy Award until the name change in 2006.
- The W. C. Handy Music Festival is held annually in Florence, Alabama and the greater Shoals area. The festival has evolved into a 10-day long celebration that includes a parade, various artists at restaurants and venues around town, and larger music events at Wilson Park in downtown Florence. The park features a statue of Handy and is close to his birthplace and museum. Previous festivals have featured jazz and blues legends including Jimmy Smith, Ramsey Lewis, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Blue Bland, Diane Schuur, Billy Taylor, Dianne Reeves and Charlie Byrd, Ellis Marsalis and Take 6. The festival also features a roster of annual regulars, called the W. C. Handy Jazz All-Stars.
- W. C. Handy Park is a city park located on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. The park contains a life-sized bronze statue of Handy.
- The W.C. Handy Blues & Barbeque Festival is a week-long musical event that features blues and Zydeco bands from across the U.S and is held every June on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Henderson, Kentucky.
- The footstone of W.C. Handy in Woodlawn CemeteryIn 1979, New York City joined the list of institutions and municipalities to honor Handy by naming one block of West 52nd Street in Manhattan “W.C. Handy Place”.
The second W.C,bluesman celebrating his birthday today is W,C. Clark (,November 16, 1939) and while W.C. Handy is known as the “Father of the Blues” W.C Clark is known as Godfather of Austin Blues” for his influence on the Austin, Texas blues scene since the late 1960s.
By the early 1960s, he began attracting the attention of such Texas blues performers as Big Joe Turner, Albert Collins and Little Johnny Taylor. In the late 1960s, he joined the R&B Joe Tex Band, and left Austin, where he thought the R&B scene had died. But during a tour with the band back through Austin, Clark sat in on bass with younger Austin locals Jimmie Vaughan and Paul Ray at an East Austin club. After the session playing with Vaughan and Ray, Clark changed his mind about Austin. He left Joe Tex two weeks later and moved back to Austin, where he then remained to guide and inspire numerous Austin musicians and lay the foundation of the prolific Austin blues and rock scene of the 1970s and later. In the early 1970s, Clark formed an Austin blues quintet named Triple Threat Revue, with members Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton. He also formed several bands with various names, which also included as members Jimmie Vaughan and Angela Strehli. In 1975, Clark formed the W. C. Clark Blues Revue. Through the 1980s that band played venues with international greats such as James Brown, B.B. King, Albert King, Freddy King, Sam and Dave, Elvin Bishop and Bobby Blue Bland. Read more
Ok so I admit that I don’t know a lost about W.C. Clark’s music so a trip to AllMusic is necessary….at AllMusic I see that the editor pick among his discography is his 1994 release Heart of Gold in his review Thom Owens writes:
Heart of Gold is an impressive showcase for W.C. Clark’s deep talents, giving him the opportunity to flaunt his chops and prove that he can play nearly anything. Clark’s foundation is in greasy roadhouse Texas blues and while there’s a number of wonderful cuts in that style here, he doesn’t limit himself to Texas shuffles
So I think that album deserves a listen today (here’s the link to the album at MOG) And here’s a video of W.C, Clark performing the title track on the “Texas Connection” And a Happy Birthday goes out to both W.C’s!!