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From the Video Archives:

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Music Festival History

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Father of the Blues

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Handy's First Music Teacher

Welcome to the official website of the W.C. Handy Music Festival!

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WC Handy Poster Tshirt

Thank you for attending the 2016 WC Handy Festival, and all of those who supported the event. Make plans now to attend next year’s W.C. Handy Music Festival, July 21st through 30th, 2017.

Handy Festival concessions are available by calling 256-766-7642, or 256-394-8674.
T-shirts and hats can also be found at:

Florence Lauderdale Tourism Office
McFarland Park
200 Jim Spain Drive
Florence, AL 35630

W.C. Handy Home & Museum
620 W. College Street
Florence, AL 35630

Ye Olde General Store
219 North Seminary street
Florence, AL 35630

Counts Brothers Music
713 Waverly Avenue
Muscle Shoals, AL 35661

Discount Dan's
1010 East Second Street
Sheffield, AL

The W.C. Handy Festival is excited to announce

the UNA Summer Theater presentation of

"I'll Take You There"
featuring the Music of the Muscle Shoals

Performed at:

The Mane Room, 310 North Pine Street, Florence
7:30 pm Thursday, July 28 | Friday, July 29 | Saturday, July 30
2 pm Sunday, July 31

UNA Summer Theatre historical musical revue

$25.00 General Admission
$100 VIP Event - Saturday, July 23 @ 7:30 PM

Tickets can be purchased
Monday-Friday, 8 am til 4:30 pm,
at the UNA Department of Entertainment Industry,
112 West Tombigbee St., Florence, Alabama
or online at,
or by calling 256-765-4342

VIP Event Details:

Join the cast and crew at the opening night after party (package includes a ticket to the performance and a ticket to the opening night after party). Meet the cast, enjoy food and drink, and celebrate the "Muscle Shoals Sound"!

Meet the cast, enjoy food and drinks, and celebrate the "Muscle Shoals Sound"!

Sponsored by:
University of North Alabama | Music Preservation Society, Inc.

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UNA Summer Theatre’s “I’ll Take You There”: The Music of Muscle Shoals is an historical musical revue that tells the inspiring story of the indigenous music culture and history that has developed along the Natchez Trace Parkway in northwest Alabama. Audience members will experience the history of recorded music in the Shoals area and hear the “Muscle Shoals Sound” that revolutionized popular music worldwide. The production will include songs that were produced at local studios and recordings by such varied artists as Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger, The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Wilson Picket, Bob Dylan, and The Staple Singers. Starring George Wendt (known for his portrayal of Norm on the hit TV series Cheers), Broadway actress/singer Felicia Fields (Tony nominated for her portrayal of Sofia in The Color Purple), Myk Watford, Jason Petty, Mississippi Charles Bevel, Kenita Miller (beloved in the Broadway community), Dan Wheetman, David Keenan, Will Barrow, and more!

Buy tickets now!

Florence, AL 35632
(256) 765-4100
1 (800) TALK-UNA


The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area is proud to support the 2016 W.C. Handy Music Festival!

Hosted by the University of North Alabama, the MSNHA was designated by Congress in 2009 after a 10-year grassroots effort among northwest Alabama community leaders to connect the region’s culture with its quality of life. MSNHA was developed to help preserve the history of the six counties in the region’s Tennessee River basin by focusing on the themes of music, Native American heritage and the river. Our mission is to promote cultural tourism in the region through education, preservation and conservation of heritage and culture. We inform and educate. We help to develop and interpret visitor-ready sites, such as the W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library, in Florence; create living history experiences; and chronicle the evolution of the area's landscape while extending these opportunities to the largest audience possible.

The National Heritage Area program, established by the Department of Interior and the National Park Service, recognizes regions throughout the US with significant historical, cultural or natural features that help tell our national story. For details, visit

Office – 468 N. Court St., Florence
Mailing address -- UNA Box 5231 Florence AL 35632
Email --
Website --
Phone -- 256.765.5028
Roots of American Music Trail --

Please checkout our featured festival events and updated 2016 schedule.

The DaDooRunRun! (Something for everyone including the 5K Run and Family Fun Walk)

A Tri-State Bike Ride through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee!

The traditional Street Strut Parade!

Determined, the play about life of William Christopher (W.C.) Handy!

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Courting the Blues Parade!

Exhibits! Car, Truck, and Bike Shows! Music History Discussions!

...and the best music performed in the place once known as the "Hit Recording Capital of the World"

Check back here next week for dates and times!

The Music Preservation Society, Inc. proudly presents its annual ten-day series of events designed to preserve, promote, and present the music of northwest Alabama (also known as the "Shoals" area). The W.C. Handy Music Festival was named in honor of William Christopher Handy, the "Father of the Blues", who was born in 1873 in Florence, Alabama. The award-winning W. C. Handy Music Festival has been held each year since 1982 and has been recognized, among other honors, as:

  • The Alabama Department of Tourism Top 10 Event
  • Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event for July, August, September
  • Geo-tourism Map Guide to Appalachia Featured Site
  • Top 100 American Bus Association Event in North America

Two of the Shoals area's greatest assets are our rich musical heritage, and the natural beauty that surrounds us. Keeping outdoor events litter free allows us to showcase both of these assets. The objective of the N Harmony with Nature initiative, launched during the 2011 W. C. Handy Music Festival, was to promote environmental stewardship by reducing litter and waste, and emphasize the value of recycling. The initiative was a tremendous success and was designated as the top project for Northwest Alabama Resource, Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) and for the State of Alabama.

Our goal is to build on the success of the previous W. C. Handy Music Festivals by promoting the reduction of litter and waste, not only for our outdoor events, but also for indoor events. We are asking all of our Festival attendees, including members of our community, and visitors to our area, to help us in our efforts by disposing trash in the marked bins that will be provided at most events.

For more information about N Harmony with Nature, visit


Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 38 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy, and 7,000 gallons of water!


Competition entry forms for the 2016 Official W.C. Handy Music Festival Design are available here:
2016 Design Entry Form

About the 2016 W. C. Handy Music Festival Design

The annual W.C. Handy Festival Design Competition draws participants of all ages. The winning artwork was designed by Jessie Layne, a student at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Her creation will is featured on the front of the 2016 T-shirts, on the Official Handy Brochures, and on other marketing materials. There will be a limited number of the posters autographed by Ms. Layne. There will also be unsigned posters available for purchase.

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