When asked why there is still a birthday party for W.C. Handy every year, the president of the Handy Cabin Committee, Margaret Austin, had a simple reply.
“My immediate answer to that question would be why not celebrate it?” Austin said. “He is a native of Florence, we can call him our native son. He was a musical genius who helped put Florence on the map.”
Handy just wasn’t a popular local musician, but his influence reaches nationally and globally, Austin said.
So every year on Handy’s birthday, Nov. 16, the Handy Cabin Committee holds a birthday party — complete with cake and refreshments. Friday’s celebration is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The program will take place on the front porch of the W.C. Handy Home, Museum and Library and attendees are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs. The celebration will feature a concert from Harvey Thompson Sr. and the Thompson Trio along with solo vocalist Mary Mason.
In the event of rain, the celebration will be moved inside the museum.
Sandra Ford, curator of the Handy Home, said the celebration is usually more successful if the weather holds and they have it outside.
“I’m hoping that this year we will be successful and it warms up just a bit,” Ford said.
Handy is widely known as the father of the blues, the root music that would greatly influence or evolve into nearly every genre of popular music today.
“So he deserves to be honored,” Austin said. “What man with that status does not deserved to be honored? So we will continue to remember him, and we will pay tribute to his great legacy.”
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@ TimesDaily.com.