William Christopher Handy was born in 1873 in Florence, Alabama. Since 1982, the Music Preservation Society, Inc. has been
honoring and celebrating the "Father of the Blues" with an annual ten-day series of events held in the Northwestern part of
Alabama, often referred to as "The Shoals."
In 2015 the Music Preservation Society, Inc. ("MPS") proudly presents the 34th award-winning W. C. Handy Music
Festival which has been recognized 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
MAKE PLANS TO ATTEND THE 2015 FESTIVAL: July 17-26 We look forward to seeing you!
Handy Festival concessions are still available by calling 256-766-7642, or 256-394-8674.
T-shirts and hats can also be found at:
Ye Olde General Store
219 North Seminary street
Florence, AL 35630
Jewell's Accessories Boutique
111 North Court Street
Florence, AL 35630
The 2015 W. C. Handy Music Camp will be held June 8-11, 2015
The 22nd W. C. Handy Music Camp will be held June 8-11, 2015, on the campus of the University of North Alabama.
Ken Watters (trumpet player and jazz composer) will serve as camp director. The faculty is composed of
professional musicians with extensive performance experience. Camp curriculum will include theory, private
lessons, sectionals, combo, big band, and improvisation performance history. The Music Camp will culminate
with a concert on Thursday, June 11 at 6:00 pm.
The Music Camp is a joint effort of the W. C. Handy Music Festival and the University of North Alabama
(UNA) and is hosted by Dr. Lloyd Jones and Dr. Edd Jones, both of whom have directed UNA's bands. For
information and registration please contact the W.C. Handy Festival (256-766-7642-) or by email at
About the 2014 W.C. Handy Jazz Camp
The 21st W. C. Handy Music Camp was held June 9-12, 2014, on the campus of the University of North Alabama. Howard Lamb (trombone player extraordinaire and leader of the Memphis Jazz Orchestra) served as camp director. Music Camp instructors provided four days of intensive training on various instruments. They included keyboard instructor Ray Reach, Director of Student Jazz Programs at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame; and trumpet instructor Gary Lamb (trumpet, flute, and vocals), former road manager for Glenn Miller Orchestra. Other instructors were Robert Dickson, bass; Gary Wheat, saxophone; Mark Lanter, drums; Jim Cavendar, guitar. Camp curriculum included theory, private lessons, sectionals, combo, big band, and improvisation performance history. The Music Camp culminated with a concert on Thursday at 6:00 pm held on stage in Norton Auditorium followed by a reception. This concert was an inspiring pre-curser to the W. C. Handy Music Festival. The Music Camp Faculty performed at a pre-festival Handy Lunch jam session at Rosie's Restaurant on Court Street in Florence Wednesday, June 11th from noon until 1 pm.
The Music Camp was a joint effort of the W. C. Handy Music Festival and the University of North Alabama (UNA) and was hosted by Dr. Lloyd Jones and Dr. Edd Jones, both of whom have directed UNA's bands. Camp Assistant Drew White, with the help of UNA students Adam Byars and Jimmy Johnson, worked with faculty and UNA's Department of Music. Phi Mu Alpha Music Fraternity assisted with the concert and hosted a reception following the concert.
About the 2014 W.C. Handy Music Festival Headliner: CANDI STATON WITH GUESTS DONNIE FRITTS AND JOHN PAUL WHITE
Photo by Alan Messer
Photo by Shannon Wells
Photo by Shannon Wells
Candi Staton, Hanceville, Alabama native, began her career at the Jewell Christian Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, where she and her sister, Maggie, were students. The two teamed up with fellow classmate, Naomi Harrison, to form the Jewell Gospel Trio. Touring on the traditional gospel music circuit led to recordings for the Nashboro, Apollo, and Savoy labels.
Staton's Muscle Shoals' connection began with recordings at FAME, where, as a Southern soul stylist, she earned the title, "The First Lady of Soul." Grammy nominations followed with her Soul version of "Stand By Your Man," and "In The Ghetto." Appearances on "The Soul Train" second- season opening show widened her audience even more. Hits continued to top the US R&B and UK singles charts. Returning to Muscle Shoals in the 1980s she recorded her 27th album, "When Life Happens," for Beracah Records/Fame Records and received two Grammy nominations for two albums on the Beracah label that she formed with her husband.
By the mid-1980s, Staton had joined Intersound Records, where she earned a new title, "The Sweetheart of Soul." Over her six-decade musical career, Staton has released over 50 albums and singles.
When asked about bringing her vocal magic to the 2014 W. C. Handy Music Festival Headliner stage, she said: "I am so excited to be a part of the Handy Festival in the Shoals area where I started. It's been a long time coming, but I'm finally going to spend an evening with some of the most wonderful people that I've known for many years. Come out and let's have an amazing evening!" Whether she's singing Southern Soul, Disco, Country, Gospel, or inspirational music, Staton has the gift and she uses it well.
Candi Staton was joined by two singer/songwriter/musicians also with the
Muscle Shoals' Connection. At the February 24, 2014 Alabama Music Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, in Florence,
Alabama, when she was added to the list of Alabama Musical legends, Staton sang "I Ain't Easy To Love" with John
Paul White, of The Civil Wars. After the performance, Muscle Shoals native, White, said: "I've had few experiences
that rival singing with Candi. For me, growing up in the Shoals on country, soul and R&B - she's royalty. The
best part is that she's one of the sweetest people I've met - musician or otherwise. I want to be like her." Staton
recorded "I Ain't Easy to Love," with John Paul White and Jason Isbell for the album, "Life Happens," which debuted at
#10 on Billboard's "Top Blues Album Charts" in May, 2014. John Paul White, Ben Tanner of The Alabama Shakes, and other
partners have started a new record label called Single Lock Records, which recently signed St. Paul and the Broken
Music legend, Donnie Fritts - singer, songwriter, keyboardist, session musician and movie star - is another native of The Shoals
who performed the headliner concert. Fritts has recorded with
Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, among others, and for 40 years has served as keyboardist for Kris Kristofferson.
Fritts was inducted into the 2008 Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and has also appeared in several Kristofferson movies,
has written songs recorded by music legends Willie Nelson, Delbert McClinton, Tony Joe White, Leroy Parnell, and John
Prine. His most well known songs are "We Had It All" (sung by Waylon Jennings, Dobie Gray, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson,
Keith Richards, Ray Charles, Rolling Stones) and "Breakfast In Bed" (sung by Dusty Springfield, UB40 featuring Chrissie
Hynde and Shelby Lynne). John Paul White and Donnie Fritts are currently teamed up as songwriters/artists/musicians to
record what Fritts calls "a funky R&B" album on the Single Lock label.
Sponsored by: Music Preservation Society, Inc. * Shoals Solid Waste Authority
* Colbert County Commission * Tennessee Valley Authority * Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa * Local Ford Dealers
* the University of North Alabama Department of University Events * Coca Cola Bottling Company
* Quad Cities Carwash & Limousine * Rhoda P's Catering * Lauderdale County Commission
Two of the Shoals area's greatest assets are our rich musical heritage and the natural beauty that
surrounds us. Keeping outdoor events litter and waste free allows us to showcase both of these assets
to their fullest advantage. 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 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
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 our community citizens, attendees, and visitors to help us in our efforts by disposing trash
in marked bins that will be provided at most events.