W. C. Handy

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Life is like a trumpet. If you don't put anything into it, you don't get anything out.

William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873March 28, 1958) was an African American blues composer, often known as "The Father of the Blues".


  • I think America concedes that (true American music) has sprung from the negro. When we take these things that come from the art of the Negro and from the heart of the man farthest down.
  • If my serenade of song and story should serve as a pillow for some composer's head, as yet perhaps unborn, to dream and build on our fond melodies in his tomorrow, I have not labored in vain.

Quotes about W. C. Handy

  • It's a street in Memphis that W.C. Handy wrote about in his "Beale Street Blues." You know, If Beale Street could talk,/If Beale Street could talk,/Married men would have to take their beds and walk.
    • 1972 interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
  • The blues is a method. It represents a treatment of songs, first by W. C. Handy, and then by a great line of singers and musicians.
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