W.C. Handy Encounters the Blues
At this location in 1903, traveling musician W. C. Handy listened to a local man play the guitar in a way he had not encountered before. Handy observed the unique sound made by applying a knife t the strings of a slide guitar and called the new style "the blues." While many musicians were creating the new style characterized by "blue" notes, Handy was the first to write this style into the sheet music of the era. As a result, Handy was and remains widely-recognized as "the Father of the Blues."
Backstory and Context
According to Handy, he was managing a band and traveling throughout the Delta when he first encountered the blues sound "one night in Tutwiler." "As I nodded in the railroad station while waiting for a train that had been delayed nine hours," Handy explained, "life suddenly took me by the shoulder and wakened me with a start."
Handy recalled that the man sang the lyric "Goin’ where the Southern cross’ the Dog." three times. It was "the weirdest music I ever heard." Handy later recreated the sound with the song he titled "Yellow Dog Blues." The song was a hit, and the style of music grew in popularity throughout the South.