W.C. Handy documentary debuts in the Shoals - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

W.C. Handy documentary debuts in the Shoals

W.C. Handy (Source: WAFF) W.C. Handy (Source: WAFF)
The W.C. Handy documentary premiered at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. (Source: WAFF) The W.C. Handy documentary premiered at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. (Source: WAFF)
TUSCUMBIA, AL (WAFF) -

For the first time, a film about W.C. Handy, known as the "father of the blues," is here.

Handy is known as one of the most influential American songwriters and was born in Florence, Alabama. The premiere of "Mr. Handy's Blues" was standing room only at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia on Wednesday.

"He is an American master. Why isn't there a film definitive that preserves his legacy," said producer and director Joanne Fish.

She was shocked that there wasn't a movie about Handy detailing his journey to become the "father of the blues."

"I visited the Handy home and then I went back the next day and visited it again and again and again and just thought this is a story that people need to know," Fish said.

After 10 years of research, shooting and interviewing, the 80-plus minutes of film shares more than previously known about Handy.

"There are things that I didn't know about my grandfather so that was pretty revealing, I think it’s very nice and wonderful because it provides a very authentic overview on his life," said Carlos R. Handy.

"I mean, I must have scanned 550 pictures cause I was like, 'Oh, I love this one. I must have this one,' and these are pictures that really no one has seen outside of the family," Fish said.

The film brings together a lot of elements of Handy's life, including his upbringing, experiences in different cities and how that led to his success.

"He doesn't get enough credit for what he did do and what his contribution is for American music," she said.

The documentary will be viewed Thursday at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame at 1 p.m. and at the Lauderdale-Florence Tourism Office on Friday at 10 a.m. Handy's grandson will also be signing Handy's autobiography in conjunction with the screenings.

They hope by next year, DVDs of the documentary will be in the local gift shops in the Shoals.

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