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The museum is located in the heart of Florence, Alabama. Her nickname ( "Alabama Renaissance City"). The W.C. Handy Cabin, Museum and library is dedicated to one of Florence's most famous sons known as the "Father of the Blues", Handy was born in a log cabin at this site in 1873. 

The cabin, museum and library contain a collection of Handy's personal papers, artifacts and other items he donated before his death in 1958.

Florence is a city in, and the county seat of, Lauderdale CountyAlabamaUnited States, in the state's northwest corner. Florence is the largest and principal city of the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Muscle ShoalsSheffield, and Tuscumbia metropolitan areas in Colbert and Lauderdale counties). Florence is considered northwestern Alabama's primary economic hub.

W.C. Handy The Father of the Blues, William Christopher Handy, was born in Florence in 1873 in a simple cabin that today houses a large collection of his personal papers, memorabilia and artifacts. Born with a natural musical bent-as a boy he visualized birdcalls as notes on a scale. Handy went on to compose such well-known blues jewels as St. Louis Blues, Beale Street Blues, and Memphis Blues. Feel the blues down to your toes standing next to the very piano that shook with St. Louis Blues for the first time; see his hand-written sheets of music-originals of many of his tunes.


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Playing the Trumpet


W C Handy was born in Florence, Alabama, the son of Elizabeth Brewer and Charles Barnard Handy. His father was the pastor of a small church in Guntersville, a small town in northeast central Alabama. Handy wrote in his 1941 autobiography, Father of the Blues, that he was born in the log cabin built by his grandfather William Wise Handy, who became an African Methodist Episcopal minister after emancipation. The log cabin of Handy's birth has been preserved near downtown Florence.

Growing up he apprenticed in carpentry, shoe making and plastering. W C Handy was deeply religious, and his musical style was influenced by the church music he sang and played as a youth. It was also influenced by the sounds of the natural world. He cited as inspiration the sounds of "whippoorwills, bats and hoot owls and their outlandish noises", the sound of Cypress Creek washing on the fringes of the woodland, and "the music of every songbird and all the symphonies of their unpremeditated art".

W C Handy's father believed that musical instruments were tools of the devil. Without his parents' permission, He bought his first guitar, which he had seen in a local shop window and secretly saved for by picking berries and nuts and making lye soap. Upon seeing the guitar, his father asked him, "What possessed you to bring a sinful thing like that into our Christian home?" and ordered him to "take it back where it came from", but he also arranged for his son to take organ lessons. The organ lessons did not last long, but Handy moved on to learn to play the cornet. He joined a local band as a teenager, but he kept this fact a secret from his parents. He purchased a cornet from a fellow band member and spent every free minute practicing it.


"Setting my mind on a musical instrument was like falling in love. All the world seemed bright and changed"

William Christopher Handy


620 West College Street,

Florence, Alabama 35630



Phone: 256-275-3128

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William Chirstopher Handy Quotes

"Whenever I heard the song of a bird and the answering call of its mate, I could visualize the notes in scale, all built up within my consciousness as a natural symphony"

William Christopher Handy

"Life is like a trumpet - if you don't put anything into it, you don't get anything out of it"

William Christopher Handy


"Setting my mind on a musical instrument was like falling in love. All the world seemed bright and changed."

William Christopher Handy

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