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The rustic 1873 log cabin and birthplace of the renowned blues musician William Christopher “W.C.” Handy is now a museum and library. Opened to the public in June 1970, it houses a large collection of Handy’s papers, sheet music, and instruments. In 1980 the Black Heritage Library was added as a separate building and the average attendance each year is around 3000.
What started in the early eighties by the Music Preservation Society as a few events held in Florence to honor Handy during a weekend has grown to be a ten-day long music festival during the last full week in July each year. It boasts nearly 300, mostly musical events, in parks, clubs, restaurants, churches, recreation centers, and other places throughout Northwest Alabama, known as The Shoals.
The festival continues to pay homage to the legacy of W.C. Handy, known to the world as the “Father of the Blues.” Born on November 16, 1873, in Florence, AL, where he lived until he was 19. He composed “Beale Street Blues”, “Yellow Dog Blues”, “Memphis Blues,” and “St. Louis Blues” and later formed Handy Brothers Music, still operated today in New York.