Father of the Blues: An Autobiography

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Da Capo Press, 1991 - Biography & Autobiography - 317 pages
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W. C. Handy's blues--"Memphis Blues," "Beale Street Blues," "St. Louis Blues"--changed America's music forever. InFather of the Blues, Handy presents his own story: a vivid picture of American life now vanished. W. C. Handy (1873-1958) was a sensitive child who loved nature and music; but not until he had won a reputation did his father, a preacher of stern Calvinist faith, forgive him for following the "devilish" calling of black music and theater. Here Handy tells of this and other struggles: the lot of a black musician with entertainment groups in the turn-of-the-century South; his days in minstrel shows, and thenin his own band; how he made his first $100 from "Memphis Blues"; how his orchestra came to grief with the First World War; his successful career in New York as publisher and song writer; his association with the literati of the Harlem Renaissance.Handy's remarkable tale--pervaded with his unique personality and humor--reveals not only the career of the man who brought the blues to the world's attention, but the whole scope of American music, from the days of the old popular songs of theSouth, through ragtime to the great era of jazz.
 

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User Review  - JackTheRabbit - LibraryThing

A bit of a tough read, and maybe W C wasn't quite as central to the whole "Discovery of the Blues" thing as he claims, but it is a tremendous story and no-one else has a better right to tell it. So ... Read full review

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its an okay book

Contents

CHAPTEJ t I Handys HOI I
3
Songbirds and School Days II
11
Wilberforce Wallace and Wanderlust
19
Maharas Minstrel Men
30
Work Is the Measure of Worth
55
Mississippi Mud
71
Pee Wees Pimps and Politics
89
Memphis BluesA Bungled Bargain
106
All InDown and Out
204
The Blues Get Glorified
216
No Fool No Fun
233
Down Memory Lane
242
Way Down South Where the Blues Began
252
XX ASCAP
261
Treasure Island
273
Black and White
291

St Louis Blues and Solvent Bank
122
Blue Diamonds in the Rough 37
137
Mother
157
From Beale Street to Broadway
169
Trouble Trouble IVe Had It All My Days 78
186
World of TomorrowGod Bless America
299
Compositions Arrangements and Books
305
Index of Names
309
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About the author (1991)

Arna Bontemps was one of many African American writers associated with Fisk University, where he taught for 20 years. He became a visiting professorship at Yale University and returned to Fisk to spend the last years of his life there. Bontemps grew up in the South and wrote of the condition and spirit of the southern black in memoirs and in fiction. His historical and topical novel Black Thunder (1936) is perhaps his best known, along with Drums at Dusk (1935). As an active leader in the Harlem Renaissance, however, Bontemps wrote prolifically in all genres and for children as well as adults. He produced several important collections of narratives about enslaved people and African American folk tales. Bontemps was a major anthologizer of Harlem Renaissance work and helped shape the new black writing as theoretician and critic. Bontemps died in 1973.

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