Ira Gershwin was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century. With George he wrote more than a dozen Broadway shows, featuring songs such as "I Got Rhythm", "Embraceable You", "The Man I Love" and "Someone to Watch Over Me", he was responsible, along with DuBose Heyward, for the libretto to George's opera Porgy and Bess. The success the Gershwin brothers had with their collaborative works has overshadowed the creative role that Ira played, his mastery of songwriting continued, after the early death of George. He wrote additional hit songs with Kurt Weill, Harry Warren and Harold Arlen, his critically acclaimed 1959 book Lyrics on Several Occasions, an amalgam of autobiography and annotated anthology, is an important source for studying the art of the lyricist in the golden age of American popular song. Gershwin was born in New York City, the oldest of four children of Morris and Rose Gershovitz, who were Russian Jews, born in St Petersburg, who had emigrated to the US in 1891.
Ira's siblings were George and Frances. Morris changed the family name to "Gershwine". Shy in his youth, Ira spent much of his time at home reading, but from grammar school through college he played a prominent part in several school newspapers and magazines, he graduated in 1914 from Townsend Harris High School, a public school for intellectually gifted students, where he met Yip Harburg, with whom he enjoyed a lifelong friendship and a love of Gilbert and Sullivan. He dropped out; the childhood home of Ira and George Gershwin was in the center of the Yiddish Theater District, on the second floor at 91 Second Avenue, between East 5th Street and East 6th Street. They frequented the local Yiddish theaters. While George began composing and "plugging" in Tin Pan Alley from the age of 18, Ira worked as a cashier in his father's Turkish baths, it was not until 1921. Alex Aarons signed Ira to write the songs for his next show, Two Little Girls in Blue produced by Abraham Erlanger, along with co-composers Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin.
So as not to appear to trade off George's growing reputation, Ira wrote under the pseudonym "Arthur Francis", after his youngest two siblings. His lyrics were well received, allowing him to enter the show-business world with just one show; the same year, the Gershwins collaborated for the first time on a score. It was not until 1924 that Ira and George teamed up to write the music for what became their first Broadway hit Lady, Be Good. Once the brothers joined forces, their combined talents became one of the most influential forces in the history of American Musical Theatre. "When the Gershwins teamed up to write songs for Lady, Be Good, the American musical found its native idiom." Together, they wrote the music for four films. Some of their more famous works include "The Man I Love", "Fascinating Rhythm", "Someone to Watch Over Me", "I Got Rhythm" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me", their partnership continued until George's sudden death from a brain tumor in 1937. Following his brother's death, Ira waited nearly three years before writing again.
After this temporary retirement, Ira teamed up with accomplished composers such as Jerome Kern. Over the next 14 years, Gershwin continued to write the lyrics for many film scores and a few Broadway shows, but the failure of Park Avenue in 1946 was his farewell to Broadway. As he wrote at the time, "Am reading a couple of stories for possible musicalization but I hope I don't like them as I think I deserve a long rest."In 1947, he took 11 songs George had written but never used, provided them with new lyrics, incorporated them into the Betty Grable film The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. He wrote comic lyrics for Billy Wilder's 1964 movie Kiss Me, although most critics believe his final major work was for the 1954 Judy Garland film A Star Is Born. American singer and musical historian Michael Feinstein worked for Gershwin in the lyricist's latter years, helping him with his archive. Several lost musical treasures were unearthed during this period, Feinstein performed some of the material. Feinstein's book The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs about working for Ira, George and Ira's music was published in 2012.
According to a 1999 story in Vanity Fair, Ira Gershwin's love for loud music was as great as his wife's loathing of it. When Debby Boone—daughter-in-law of his neighbor Rosemary Clooney—returned from Japan with one of the first Sony Walkmans, Clooney gave it to Michael Feinstein to give to Ira, "so he could crank it in his ears, you know, and he said,'This is wonderful!' And he called his broker and bought Sony stock!" Three of Ira Gershwin's songs were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, though none won. Along with George S Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, he was a recipient of the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Of Thee I Sing. In 1988 UCLA established The George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Musical Achiev
An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have focused on CD and MP3 formats; the audio cassette was a format used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s. An album may be recorded in a recording studio, in a concert venue, at home, in the field, or a mix of places; the time frame for recording an album varies between a few hours to several years. This process requires several takes with different parts recorded separately, brought or "mixed" together. Recordings that are done in one take without overdubbing are termed "live" when done in a studio. Studios are built to absorb sound, eliminating reverberation, so as to assist in mixing different takes. Recordings, including live, may contain sound effects, voice adjustments, etc..
With modern recording technology, musicians can be recorded in separate rooms or at separate times while listening to the other parts using headphones. Album covers and liner notes are used, sometimes additional information is provided, such as analysis of the recording, lyrics or librettos; the term "album" was applied to a collection of various items housed in a book format. In musical usage the word was used for collections of short pieces of printed music from the early nineteenth century. Collections of related 78rpm records were bundled in book-like albums; when long-playing records were introduced, a collection of pieces on a single record was called an album. An album, in ancient Rome, was a board chalked or painted white, on which decrees and other public notices were inscribed in black, it was from this that in medieval and modern times album came to denote a book of blank pages in which verses, sketches and the like are collected. Which in turn led to the modern meaning of an album as a collection of audio recordings issued as a single item.
In the early nineteenth century "album" was used in the titles of some classical music sets, such as Schumann's Album for the Young Opus 68, a set of 43 short pieces. When 78rpm records came out, the popular 10-inch disc could only hold about three minutes of sound per side, so all popular recordings were limited to around three minutes in length. Classical-music and spoken-word items were released on the longer 12-inch 78s, about 4–5 minutes per side. For example, in 1924, George Gershwin recorded a drastically shortened version of the seventeen-minute Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, it ran for 8m 59s. Deutsche Grammophon had produced an album for its complete recording of the opera Carmen in 1908. German record company Odeon released the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky in 1909 on 4 double-sided discs in a specially designed package; this practice of issuing albums does not seem to have been taken up by other record companies for many years. By about 1910, bound collections of empty sleeves with a paperboard or leather cover, similar to a photograph album, were sold as record albums that customers could use to store their records.
These albums came in both 12-inch sizes. The covers of these bound books were wider and taller than the records inside, allowing the record album to be placed on a shelf upright, like a book, suspending the fragile records above the shelf and protecting them. In the 1930s, record companies began issuing collections of 78 rpm records by one performer or of one type of music in specially assembled albums with artwork on the front cover and liner notes on the back or inside cover. Most albums included three or four records, with two sides each, making six or eight compositions per album; the 12-inch LP record, or 33 1⁄3 rpm microgroove vinyl record, is a gramophone record format introduced by Columbia Records in 1948. A single LP record had the same or similar number of tunes as a typical album of 78s, it was adopted by the record industry as a standard format for the "album". Apart from minor refinements and the important addition of stereophonic sound capability, it has remained the standard format for vinyl albums.
The term "album" was extended to other recording media such as Compact audio cassette, compact disc, MiniDisc, digital albums, as they were introduced. As part of a trend of shifting sales in the music industry, some observers feel that the early 21st century experienced the death of the album. While an album may contain as many or as few tracks as required, in the United States, The Recording Academy's rules for Grammy Awards state that an album must comprise a minimum total playing time of 15 minutes with at least five distinct tracks or a minimum total playing time of 30 minutes with no minimum track requirement. In the United Kingdom, the criteria for the UK Albums Chart is that a recording counts as an "album" i
Ella Fitzgerald Live at Mister Kelly's
Ella Fitzgerald Live at Mister Kelly's is a live album of a 1958 Ella Fitzgerald performance at Mister Kelly's, released in 2007. Released to coincide with the 90th anniversary of Fitzgerald's birth, this is one of several live albums that Fitzgerald recorded in the late 1950s. Sarah Vaughan had recorded an album at Mister Kelly's several months earlier, it was a rare outing for several of the songs on this album. Fitzgerald had only recorded "Your Red Wagon" as a single and featured here are her debut recordings of "Witchcraft", "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and "Across the Alley from the Alamo" among several others. For 2007 2CD release on Verve Records. - 2:44 "Across the Alley from the Alamo" - 2:14 "Perdido" - 5:45 "The Lady Is a Tramp" - 3:01 "Bewitched and Bewildered" - 5:48 "Summertime" - 5:00 "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" - 3:55 "St. Louis Blues" - 6:13 "Witchcraft" - 2:57 "Love Me or Leave Me" - 3:48 "Joe Williams' Blues" - 5:57 Porgy and Bess Medley: "I Love You Porgy"/"Porgy, I's You Woman Now" / - 5:48 "How High the Moon" - 6:56Disc Two: "The Late Show" Introductions - 1:54 "Exactly Like You" - 7:37 "Come Rain or Come Shine" - 4:29 "Stardust" - 6:15 "'S Wonderful" - 1:35 "You Don't Know What Love Is" - 3:37 "Witchcraft" - 2:51 "Perdido" - 6:30 "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" - 4:04 "My Funny Valentine" - 3:04 "Anything Goes" - 2:09 Recorded August 10, 1958 at Mister Kelly's, Chicago: Ella Fitzgerald - vocals Lou Levy - piano Max Bennett - double bass Gus Johnson - drums
Lionel Leo Hampton was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist and bandleader. Hampton worked with jazz musicians from Teddy Wilson, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1996. Lionel Hampton was born in 1908 in Louisville and was raised by his mother. Shortly after he was born, he and his mother moved to her hometown of Alabama, he spent his early childhood in Kenosha, before he and his family moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1916. As a youth, Hampton was a member of the Bud Billiken Club, an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America, off-limits because of racial segregation. During the 1920s, while still a teenager, Hampton took xylophone lessons from Jimmy Bertrand and began to play drums. Hampton was raised Roman Catholic, started out playing fife and drum at the Holy Rosary Academy near Chicago. Lionel Hampton began his career playing drums for the Chicago Defender Newsboys' Band while still a teenager in Chicago.
He moved to California in 1928, playing drums for the Dixieland Blues-Blowers. He made his recording debut with The Quality Serenaders led by Paul Howard left for Culver City and drummed for the Les Hite band at Sebastian's Cotton Club. One of his trademarks as a drummer was his ability to do stunts with multiple pairs of sticks such as twirling and juggling without missing a beat. During this period he began practicing on the vibraphone. In 1930 Louis Armstrong came to California and hired the Les Hite band, asking Hampton if he would play vibes on two songs. So began his career as a vibraphonist, popularizing the use of the instrument in the process. Invented ten years earlier, the vibraphone is a xylophone with metal bars, a sustain pedal, resonators equipped with electric-powered fans that add tremolo. While working with the Les Hite band, Hampton occasionally did some performing with Nat Shilkret and his orchestra. During the early 1930s, he studied music at the University of Southern California.
In 1934 he led his own orchestra, appeared in the Bing Crosby film Pennies From Heaven alongside Louis Armstrong. In November 1936, the Benny Goodman Orchestra came to Los Angeles to play the Palomar Ballroom; when John Hammond brought Goodman to see Hampton perform, Goodman invited him to join his trio, which soon became the Benny Goodman Quartet with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa completing the lineup. The Trio and Quartet were among the first racially integrated jazz groups to perform before audiences, were a leading small-group of the day. While Hampton worked for Goodman in New York, he recorded with several different small groups known as the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, as well as assorted small groups within the Goodman band. In 1940 Hampton left the Goodman organization under amicable circumstances to form his own big band. Hampton's orchestra developed a high-profile during early 1950s, his third recording with them in 1942 produced the version of "Flying Home", featuring a solo by Illinois Jacquet that anticipated rhythm & blues.
Although Hampton first recorded "Flying Home" under his own name with a small group in 1940 for Victor, the best known version is the big band version recorded for Decca on May 26, 1942, in a new arrangement by Hampton's pianist Milt Buckner. The 78pm disc became successful enough for Hampton to record "Flyin' Home #2" in 1944, this time a feature for Arnett Cobb; the song went on to become the theme song for all three men. Guitarist Billy Mackel first joined Hampton in 1944, would perform and record with him continuously through to the late 1970s. In 1947, Hamp performed "Stardust" at a "Just Jazz" concert for producer Gene Norman featuring Charlie Shavers and Slam Stewart. Norman's GNP Crescendo label issued the remaining tracks from the concert. From the mid-1940s until the early 1950s, Hampton led a lively rhythm & blues band whose Decca Records recordings included numerous young performers who had significant careers, they included bassist Charles Mingus, saxophonist Johnny Griffin, guitarist Wes Montgomery, vocalist Dinah Washington.
Other noteworthy band members were trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Cat Anderson, Kenny Dorham, Snooky Young. The Hampton orchestra that toured Europe in 1953 included Clifford Brown, Gigi Gryce, Anthony Ortega, Monk Montgomery, George Wallington, Art Farmer, Quincy Jones, singer Annie Ross. Hampton continued to record with small groups and jam sessions during the 1940s and 1950s, with Oscar Peterson, Buddy DeFranco, others. In 1955, while in California working on The Benny Goodman Story he recorded with Stan Getz and made two albums with Art Tatum for Norman Granz as well as with his own big band. Hampton performed with Louis Armstrong and Italian singer Lara Saint Paul at the 1968 Sanremo Music Festival in Italy; the performance created a sensation with Italian audiences. That same year, Hampton received a Papal Medal from Pope Paul VI. During the 1960s, Hampton's groups were in decline, he did not fare much better in the 1970s, though he recorded for his Who's Who in Jazz record label, which he founded in 1977/1978.
Beginning in February 1984, Hampton and his band played at the University of Idaho's annual jazz festival, renamed the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival the following year. In 1987 the UI's school of music was renamed for Hampto
These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)
"These Foolish Things" is a standard with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz, writing under the pseudonym Holt Marvell, music by Jack Strachey, both Englishmen. Harry Link, an American, sometimes appears as a co-writer, it is one of a group of "Mayfair songs", like "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square". Maschwitz wrote the song under his pen name, Holt Marvell, at the behest of Joan Carr for a late-evening revue broadcast by the BBC; the copyright was lodged in 1936. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, British cabaret singer Jean Ross, with whom Maschwitz had an extramarital liaison, was the muse for the song. Billie Holiday's rendering of the song with Teddy Wilson's orchestra was a favorite of Philip Larkin, who said, "I have always thought the words were a little pseudo-poetic, but Billie sings them with such passionate conviction that I think they become poetry." Holiday's version of the song peaked to No. 5 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart. Although Maschwitz's sharp-tongued wife Hermione Gingold speculated in her autobiography that the haunting jazz standard was written for either herself or actress Anna May Wong, Maschwitz's own autobiography contradicts such claims.
Maschwitz cites "fleeting memories of young love" as inspiring the song. Most sources, including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, posit cabaret singer Jean Ross, with whom Maschwitz had a brief romantic liaison, as the muse for the song; when the song was written, Maschwitz was Head of Variety at the BBC. It is a list song, in this case dilineating the various things that remind the singer of a lost love; the lyrics – the verse and three choruses – were written by Maschwitz during the course of one Sunday morning at his flat in London between sips of coffee and vodka. Within hours of crafting the lyrics, he dictated them over the phone to Jack Strachey, they arranged to meet the same evening to discuss the next step; the song was not an immediate success and Keith Prowse, Maschwitz's agent, refused to publish it, releasing the copyright to Maschwitz himself – a stroke of luck for the lyricist. Writing in 1957, he claimed to have made £40,000 from the song. Despite being featured in Spread it Abroad, a London revue of 1936, it aroused no interest until the famous West Indian pianist and singer, Leslie Hutchinson discovered it on top of a piano in Maschwitz's office at the BBC.
"Hutch" liked it and recorded it, whereupon it became a great success and was recorded by musicians all over the world. This first recording by "Hutch" was by HMV in 1936. Popular versions in the USA in 1936 were by Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson with Billie Holiday, Nat Brandywynne, Carroll Gibbons and Joe Sanders; the song was translated in French under the title Ces petites choses and recorded by Jean Sablon in 1936 and by Ann Savoy in 2007. Various other versions have been recorded including vocal arrangements featuring: Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Johnny Hartman, Frankie Laine, Sam Cooke, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Aaron Neville, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Yves Montand, Bryan Ferry, Cassandra Wilson, Rod Stewart, it was sung by Florence Marly in the Humphrey Bogart film Tokyo Joe. James Brown recorded the song three times: a 1963 recording with strings which charted at No. 25 R&B and No. 50 Pop, Bryan Ferry covered the Dorothy Dickson version of the song for the title track of his first solo album These Foolish Things by Island Records in 1973.
Cassandra Wilson included the song in her 2015 album Coming Forth by Day. Brown, Helen. "Muse, The Witham, Barnard Castle". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 18 November 2018. Frost, Peter. "Jean Ross". Morning Star. Retrieved 18 June 2018. Gingold, Hermione. How to Grow Old Disgracefully. New York: St. Martin's Press. P. 54. Maschwitz, Eric. No Chip on My Shoulder. London: Herbert Jenkins. Pp. 77–79. Parker, Peter. "Ross, Jean Iris". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/74425. Retrieved 18 June 2017
Ella Jane Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer sometimes referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, Lady Ella. She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, intonation, a "horn-like" improvisational ability in her scat singing. After a tumultuous adolescence, Fitzgerald found stability in musical success with the Chick Webb Orchestra, performing across the country but most associated with the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, her rendition of the nursery rhyme "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" helped boost both her and Webb to national fame. After taking over the band when Webb died, Fitzgerald left it behind in 1942 to start her solo career, her manager was Moe Gale, co-founder of the Savoy, until she turned the rest of her career over to Norman Granz, who founded Verve Records to produce new records by Fitzgerald. With Verve she recorded some of her more noted works her interpretations of the Great American Songbook. While Fitzgerald appeared in movies and as a guest on popular television shows in the second half of the twentieth century, her musical collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, The Ink Spots were some of her most notable acts outside of her solo career.
These partnerships produced some of her best-known songs such as "Dream a Little Dream of Me", "Cheek to Cheek", "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall", "It Don't Mean a Thing". In 1993, she ended her nearly 60-year career with her last public performance. Three years she died at the age of 79 after years of declining health, her accolades included fourteen Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Fitzgerald was born on April 1917, in Newport News, Virginia, she was the daughter of Temperance "Tempie" Henry. Her parents lived together for at least two and a half years after she was born. In the early 1920s, Fitzgerald's mother and her new partner, a Portuguese immigrant named Joseph Da Silva, moved to Yonkers, in Westchester County, New York, her half-sister, Frances Da Silva, was born in 1923. By 1925, Fitzgerald and her family had moved to a poor Italian area, she began her formal education at the age of six and was an outstanding student, moving through a variety of schools before attending Benjamin Franklin Junior High School in 1929.
Starting in third grade, Fitzgerald admired Earl Snakehips Tucker. She performed for her peers on the way at lunchtime, she and her family were Methodists and were active in the Bethany African Methodist Episcopal Church, where she attended worship services, Bible study, Sunday school. The church provided Fitzgerald with her earliest experiences in music. Fitzgerald listened to jazz recordings by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, The Boswell Sisters, she idolized the Boswell Sisters' lead singer Connee Boswell saying, "My mother brought home one of her records, I fell in love with it... I tried so hard to sound just like her."In 1932, when Fitzgerald was fifteen, her mother died from injuries received in a car accident. Her stepfather took care of her until April 1933; this swift change in her circumstances, reinforced by what Fitzgerald biographer Stuart Nicholson describes as rumors of "ill treatment" by her stepfather, leaves him to speculate that Da Silva might have abused her. Fitzgerald began skipping school, her grades suffered.
She worked as a lookout with a Mafia-affiliated numbers runner. She never talked publicly about this time in her life; when the authorities caught up with her, she was placed in the Colored Orphan Asylum in Riverdale in the Bronx. When the orphanage proved too crowded, she was moved to the New York Training School for Girls, a state reformatory school in Hudson, New York. While she seems to have survived during 1933 and 1934 in part from singing on the streets of Harlem, Fitzgerald made her most important debut at age 17 on November 21, 1934, in one of the earliest Amateur Nights at the Apollo Theater, she had intended to go on stage and dance, but she was intimidated by a local dance duo called the Edwards Sisters and opted to sing instead. Performing in the style of Connee Boswell, she sang "Judy" and "The Object of My Affection" and won first prize, she won the chance to perform at the Apollo for a week but because of her disheveled appearance, the theater never gave her that part of her prize.
In January 1935, Fitzgerald won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House. She was introduced to drummer and bandleader Chick Webb, who had asked his signed singer Charlie Linton to help find him a female singer. Although Webb was "reluctant to sign her...because she was gawky and unkempt, a'diamond in the rough,'" he offered her the opportunity to test with his band when they played a dance at Yale University. Met with approval by both audiences and her fellow musicians, Fitzgerald was asked to join Webb's orchestra and gained acclaim as part of the group's performances at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. Fitzgerald recorded several hit songs, including "Love and Kisses" and " You'll Have to Swing It", but it was her 1938 version of the nursery rhyme, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", a song she co-wrote, that brought her public acclaim. "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" became a major hit on the radio and was one of the biggest-selling records of the decade. Webb died of spinal tuberculosis on June 16, 1939, his band was renamed Ella and Her Famous Orchestra with Fitzgerald taking on the role of bandleader.
She recorded nearly 150 songs with Webb's orchestra between 1935 and 1942. In The New York Times obituary o
W. C. Handy
William Christopher Handy was a composer and musician, known as the Father of the Blues. An African American, Handy was one of the most influential songwriters in the United States. One of many musicians who played the distinctively American blues music, Handy did not create the blues genre and was not the first to publish music in the blues form, but he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to a new level of popularity. Handy was an educated musician, he was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which combined stylistic influences from various performers. Handy was born in Florence, the son of Elizabeth Brewer and Charles Barnard Handy, his father was the pastor of a small church in Guntersville, a small town in northeast central Alabama. Handy wrote in his 1941 autobiography, Father of the Blues, that he was born in a log cabin built by his grandfather William Wise Handy, who became an African Methodist Episcopal minister after the Emancipation Proclamation.
The log cabin of Handy's birth has been preserved near downtown Florence. Handy's father believed. Without his parents' permission, Handy bought his first guitar, which he had seen in a local shop window and secretly saved for by picking berries and nuts and making lye soap. Upon seeing the guitar, his father asked him, "What possessed you to bring a sinful thing like that into our Christian home?" and ordered him to "take it back where it came from", but he arranged for his son to take organ lessons. The organ lessons did not last long, he joined a local band as a teenager. He spent every free minute practicing it. While growing up, he apprenticed in carpentry and plastering, he was religious. His musical style was influenced by the church music he sang and played in his youth and by the sounds of nature, he cited as inspiration the "whippoorwills and hoot owls and their outlandish noises", Cypress Creek washing on the fringes of the woodland, "the music of every songbird and all the symphonies of their unpremeditated art".
He worked on a "shovel brigade" at the McNabb furnace and described the music made by the workers as they beat shovels, altering the tone while thrusting and withdrawing the metal part against the iron buggies to pass the time while waiting for the overfilled furnace to digest its ore. He called the sound "better to us than the music of a martial drum corps, our rhythms were far more complicated." He wrote, "Southern Negroes sang about everything... They accompany themselves on anything from which they can extract a musical sound or rhythmical effect." He would reflect, "In this way, from these materials, they set the mood for what we now call blues". In September 1892, Handy travelled to Alabama, to take a teaching exam, he passed it and gained a teaching job at the Teachers Agriculture and Mechanical College in Huntsville. Learning that it paid poorly, he quit the position and found employment at a pipe works plant in nearby Bessemer. In his time off from his job, he organized a small string orchestra and taught musicians how to read music.
He organized the Lauzetta Quartet. When the group read about the upcoming World's Fair in Chicago, they decided to attend. To pay their way, they performed odd jobs along the way, they arrived in Chicago only to learn. Next they headed to St. Louis, but found working conditions were bad. After the quartet disbanded, Handy went to Indiana, he played the cornet in the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. In Evansville, he joined a successful band that performed throughout neighboring states, his musical endeavors were varied: he sang first tenor in a minstrel show, worked as a band director, choral director and trumpeter. At the age of 23, he became the bandmaster of Mahara's Colored Minstrels. In a three-year tour they traveled to Chicago, throughout Texas and Oklahoma to Tennessee and Florida, on to Cuba. Handy was paid a salary of $6 per week. Returning from Cuba the band traveled north through Alabama, where they stopped to perform in Huntsville. Weary of life on the road, he and his wife, stayed with relatives in his nearby hometown of Florence.
In 1896, while performing at a barbecue in Henderson, Handy met Elizabeth Price. They married on July 19, 1896, she gave birth to Lucille, the first of their six children, on June 29, 1900, after they had settled in Florence. Around that time, William Hooper Councill, the president of the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, in Normal, hired Handy to teach music, he became a faculty member in September 1900 and taught through much of 1902. He was disheartened to discover that the college emphasized teaching European music considered to be "classical", he could make more money touring with a minstrel group. In 1902 Handy traveled throughout Mississippi; the state was rural and music was part of the culture in cotton plantations in the Mississippi Delta. Musicians played guitar or banjo or, to a much lesser extent, piano. Handy's remarkable memory transcribe the music he heard in his travels. After a dispute with AAMC President Council, Handy resigned his teaching position to return to the Mahara Minstrels and tour the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.
In 1903 he became t