W.C. Handy

handy1November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958

William Christopher Handy was a legendary blues man who is often cited as the “Father of the Blues.” Handy was notable for drawing on folk and dixie jazz stylings and for his prolific publishing. The latter is especially important since he was one of the first African Americans to have success in music publishing. His scores such as “Memphis Blues,” “Yellow Dog Rag” and “Saint Louis Blues” would become standards of the genre’s early popularity. He moved to New York from Memphis in 1917 where he continued to develop and work with young talent (often young Black artists). While in New York, Handy fell from a subway platform and was blinded. Didn’t really slow him down. He continued to churn out music and influence generations of artists until the ripe old age of 84. Today, his name can be found attached to music festivals, awards, BBQ cook-offs, you name it. He is referenced in songs ranging from the Broadway musical, The Music Man, to Marc Cohn’s 1991 hit “Walking in Memphis.”


Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Cosmos Plot, Block 203/198; There is a small path leading up the hill from the “Cosmos – Canna Ave.” sign, take this path up and Handy’s grave is about 3 graves to the right and 3-4 rows back from the fence.


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