W. C. Handy and the “Birth” of the Blues

  title={W. C. Handy and the “Birth” of the Blues},
  author={Adam Gussow},
  journal={Southern Cultures},
  pages={42 - 68}
Metaphors of birth are a regular feature in the origin stories of vernacular American music. Middlebrow journalists and popular historians speak of the birth of jazz in New Orleans’s Storyville, the birth of rock ’n’ roll at Sun Studios in Memphis. But there is something uncanny about the tenacity with which the birth metaphor clings to the blues; many people through the years have found it almost impossible to think about the music’s origins without invoking it. In Dutchman (1964), playwright… Expand


Father Of The Blues: An Autobiography
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 lifeExpand
Kika Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music
the fight against segregated public accommodations, it is nonetheless a valuable addition to historical treatments of black freedom struggles in the midtwentieth century. Despite its broadened scope,Expand
Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues
Robert Johnson's story presents a fascinating paradox: Why did this genius of the Delta blues excite so little interest when his records were first released in the 1930s? And how did this brilliantExpand
Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition
Taking its title from a lyric by Mississippi bluesman Charley Patton, "Seems Liks Murder Here" offers a revealing new account of the blues tradition. Far from mere laments about lost loves and "hardExpand
Africa and the Blues
In 1969 Gerhard Kubik chanced to encounter a Mozambican labor migrant, a miner in Transvaal, South Africa, tapping a cipendani, a mouth-resonated musical bow. A comparable instrument was seen in theExpand
The History of the Blues
From its Mississippi Delta beginnings in the early 1900s to the revivals of the 1960s onwards, blues music has become a significant part of American culture and a major influence on jazz, soul,Expand
The World Don't Owe Me Nothing: The Life and Times of Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards
This vivid oral snapshot of an America that planted the blues is full of rhythmic grace. From the son of a sharecropper to an itinerant bluesman, Honeyboy's stories of good friends Charlie Patton,Expand
Looking Up at Down: The Emergence of Blues Culture
Before the Blues Part I: Rural Blues Introduction 1. "I Been 'Buked and I Been Scorned": The Folk Roots of the Blues 2. "Everyday Seems Like Murder Here": Mississippi Delta Blues 3. "Po' Boy, LongExpand
The Devil's Music: A History of the Blues
Part One * Slavery * Nigger Minstrels and Coon Songs * From Emancipation to Segregation * From Minstrels to Ragtime * Early New Orleans Jazz and Blues * Work and Song * W.C. Handy Part Two * CharleyExpand
The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity
Introduction: "Pure Soil, Endlessly Deep, Dark, and Sweet" 1. Plantation Frontier 2. "The Stern Realities of War 3. A "Harnessed Revolution" 4. Conquering the Plantation Frontier 5. New SouthExpand