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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

There will be pre-Festival events, but the official dates of this year's Handy Festival are July 22nd through 31st 2016!
Don't Miss It! Make Plans Now!

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:

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Festival events are being finalized for the 2016 schedule. We already have details for events to be held in ten cities and three counties throughout northwest Alabama including:

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 2015 W. C. Handy Music Festival Design

May 29, 2015 - The Music Preservation Society, Inc. is delighted to announce that talented local artist Carl Brackin submitted the winning design for the 2015 W.C. Handy Music Festival. The artist is a 2004 graduate of the University of North Alabama and currently works in various media including photography and graphic art. Brackin said that for this year's competition he "used design elements conveying the rich heritage and connection of the Shoals area to both W.C. Handy and the music styles that have become synonymous with the Muscle Shoals Sound." He continued, "the flow, the sound of music, and the river are historically important to the Shoals area, and W.C. Handy was famous for bringing these rich elements together. Lines of Blue are used to convey the ideas of both music and the Tennessee River at the Shoals. Red and yellow represent the deeper soul of the music and the climate of warm summer days and evenings against the background of deep purple nights."

The annual W.C. Handy Festival Design Competition draws participants of all ages. The winning design is featured on the front of the 2015 T-shirts, on the Official Handy Brochures, and on other marketing materials. Mr. Brackin has already autographed a limited number of the posters. There will also be unsigned posters available for purchase.

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

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

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

Jewell's Accessories Boutique
111 North Court Street
Florence, AL 35630

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

Counts Brothers Music
713 Waverly Avenue
Muscle Shoals, AL 35661

2016 W.C. Handy Music Camp

View Handy Camp Brochure

View Handy Camp Schedule

Trumpeter Ken Watters will return as director of the 23rd W.C. Handy Music Camp, to be held June 6-9, 2016 on the campus of the University of North Alabama. This day camp is designed for students of all ages with a curriculum encompassing theory, private lessons, sectionals, combo, big band, and improvisation performance history. This year’s instructors will include Watters, a Summit Recording artist with five internationally released top 50 jazz albums; Charles Rose, trombonist and pianist and member of both Muscle Shoals Horns and Muscle Shoals Music Revue; Gary Wheat, saxophonist and jazz improvisationalist, who performs professionally in Birmingham and travels nationally; Howard Lamb, trombonist, who leads the Memphis Jazz Orchestra and serves as jazz trombone instructor at the University of Memphis; Mark Lanter, drummer, who performs, teaches, and travels internationally to Columbia, South America and Israel; Robert Dickson, bassist and guitarist, who after receiving his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Alabama and Master of Music from the University of New Orleans, can be found performing in and around New Orleans and Atlanta.

The camp will culminate with a concert Thursday, June 9th at 6:00 p.m. in the University of North Alabama Band Room. The concert will feature both students and their instructors, and is open to the public. Prior to that, the faculty and some students will perform at a Handy Camp Lunch jam session at Rosie’s restaurant on Wednesday, June 8th from noon until 1pm.

Deadline for completed Handy Music Camp registration is June 1, 2016. Information regarding a limited number of scholarships for youth can be had by calling the Handy Festival office at 256-766-7642. For the music camp registration forms, access or some local school systems. The annual W.C. Handy Music Camp is sponsored by the Music Preservation Society and the University of North Alabama Department of Music. For more information, contact Handy Camp Director Ken Watters at: 256-660-5059.

The 2015 W. C. Handy Music Camp was held June 8-11, 2015

The 22nd W. C. Handy Music Camp was 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

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