W.C. Handy plays his composition, “St. Louis Blues,” on Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town, 12/18/49
William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a composer and musician, known as the Father of the Blues. An African American, Handy was one of the most influential songwriters in the United States. W.C. Handy was born on November 16, 1873, in Florence, Alabama. He played with several bands and traveled throughout the Midwest and the South, learning about the African-American folk music that would become known as the Blues.
W. C. Handy became the “Father of the Blues” when he titled his autobiography that same name in 1957. However, this legacy started decades sooner, when Handy published the first “blues” with “Memphis Blues” in 1912. This Blues became an immediate commercial success.