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W. C. Handy, W. C. Handy, 0817356967, 0-8173-5696-7, 978-0-8173-5696-5, 9780817356965, , , W. C. Handy, 0817386041, 0-8173-8604-1, 978-0-8173-8604-7, 9780817386047,

W. C. Handy
The Life and Times of the Man Who Made the Blues

Quality Paper
2011. 312 pp.
978-0-8173-5696-5
Price:  $24.95 t
E Book
2011. 312 pp.
978-0-8173-8604-7
Price:  $24.95 d

David Robertson charts W. C. Handy’s rise from a rural-Alabama childhood in the last decades of the nineteenth century to his emergence as one of the most celebrated songwriters of the twentieth century. The child of former slaves, Handy was first inspired by spirituals and folk songs, and his passion for music pushed him to leave home as a teenager, despite opposition from his preacher father. Handy soon found his way to St. Louis, where he spent a winter sleeping on cobblestone docks before lucking into a job with an Indiana brass band. It was in a minstrel show, playing to racially mixed audiences across the country, that he got his first real exposure as a professional musician, but it was in Memphis, where he settled in 1905, that he hit his full stride as a composer. At once a testament to the power of song and a chronicle of race and black music in America, W. C. Handy’s life story is in many ways the story of the birth of our country’s indigenous culture—and a riveting must read for anyone interested in the history of American music.

David Robertson is the author of three previous biographies—of the slave rebel Denmark Vesey, the former U.S. secretary of state James F. Byrnes, and the bishop James A. Pike—and of a historical novel about John Wilkes Booth. His poetry has appeared in the Sewanee Review and other journals, and he has provided political and literary commentary to ABC News and the Washington Post. He was educated in Alabama and lives in Ohio.
 

“Robertson . . . casts overdue light on Handy’s essential role in establishing the blues as a popular art.”—David Hadju, New York Times Book Review

“Robertson’s work is a fascinating look at not only Handy’s life but the history and business of American music.”—Publishers Weekly

“An overdue and highly readable account of the man known as the Father of the Blues.”—Los Angeles Times

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