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Directed by Joanna Fish

United States 2017 86 mins. In English

Known as the father of the blues, W.C. Handy (1873–1958) began his career as a minstrel, and ended it as a revered Memphis bandleader, composer, and entrepreneurial visionary who brought the blues into mainstream society and commercial viability. He is credited with transforming African American folk music that was handed down only through oral tradition into a purely American genre of music. Against all odds Handy forged a successful career in the post Civil War South; he was the first African American to publish his own music, and in 1914 wrote “St. Louis Blues,” the most recorded song in the first half of the 20th century.

Genres: Documentary

Appears in: Reel Music 35



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.