W.C. Handy Music Festival

Florence, AL 35630

256-766-7642

History

W.C. Handy Festival Tribute to Edsel Holden

William Christopher “W.C”. Handy was “Father of the Blues”. The Festival in his honor came about as an idea birthed after a conversation between Dr. David Mussleman and Dr. Willie Ruff, making them the “Fathers of the Handy Festival”. However, it was Edsel Holden who became the Handy Festival’s “God-Father”. Edsel served on the original Music Preservation Society Board of Directors, and through the years spent considerable time making the Handy Festival successful. He worked at all hours of the day and night, talking with owners and managers about featuring live music in local restaurants, bars, and other businesses, putting together performers to create ‘dream team’ jazz trios, quartets, and quintets, and convincing sponsors to fund it all. The result was one of the best weeks of the year in the Shoals area: the W.C. Handy Music Festival. Edsel never stopped loving and assisting (and helping to direct) the Handy Festival. His flair for presenting music benefited the entire area.

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