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W. C. Handy's blues-"Memphis Blues," "Beale Street Blues," "St. Louis Blues"-changed America's music forever. In Father 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 then in 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 the South, through ragtime to the great era of jazz.