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Thanksgiving with Hendrix and Handy

This year, Thanksgiving Day falls on November 27th, which also happens to be the birthday of legendary guitar player, James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix.

Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942, and influenced the world with his lengthy solos and stylistic touch to the electric guitar during the late 60’s. In the spring of 2006, Hendrix’s album, Are You Experienced?, received notoriety when it was named by Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, to the Library’s 2005 National Recording Registry. Jimi passed away in 1970 at the age of twenty-seven. Jimi’s cousin, Robert Hendrix, was present to accept the award. 

Check out our instructional audio book of the single “Red House,” from the aforementioned album; Bill Brown teaches how to play this song on guitar, DBM 02055, also available on BARD.

Not a Thanksgiving Day birthday, but a November one, W.C. Handy, commonly referred to as the “Father of the Blues,” would have turned 141 this month. I wanted to mention Handy to our readers, even though his birthday fell earlier this month, because he fits well into the context of NLS and our services to the blind and disabled. Handy was born on November 16, 1873 in Florence, Alabama. Having suffered from vision problems throughout his life, Handy lost his sight completely in 1943 after a head injury suffered from a fall off a subway platform.   

Perhaps most well-known for writing the 1914 classic, “St. Louis Blues,” and others like “Beale Street Blues,” and “The Memphis Blues,” Handy was prolific in his writing and influential to the world of blues and music as a whole. There is the W. C. Handy Music Festival  that takes place every year in Northwestern Alabama.   

I suggest downloading (from BARD), or requesting The Father of the Blues, DBM 00343, to learn more about him. This book is a 1970’s recording of the radio broadcast program, Kaleidoscope, hosted by Mike Whorf. In this episode, Whorf narrates a discussion of Handy’s life, which includes segments of Handy’s music.  Mrs. W.C. Handy contributes to the narration through her own words. Handy passed away in 1958, over a decade before this broadcast premiered. His voice is heard within the program through archival recordings. It is memorable to hear Handy himself discuss parts of his life and the music he wrote. And, for our braille readers, a transcription of “St. Louis Blues” is available for voice and piano, BRM 27034, also on BARD.

Photo of W.C. Handy

Photo of W.C. Handy, standing facing the camera, holding a trumpet to his left side.

There are more birthdays we could discuss; singer Tina Turner celebrates her 75th today, on November 26th. And, jazz artist Ethel Ennis, from our neighboring city Baltimore, celebrates her 82nd birthday on the 28th.

Perhaps you have your own favorite artists in mind this time of year? We are always open to comments. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Sousa’s Birthday

Last week on November 4th, Americans performed their civic duty and voted in the 2014 mid-term elections. Last week on November 6th, one of America’s most famous composers, native Washingtonian John Philip Sousa, celebrated his 160th birthday. It is fitting, then, to celebrate a composer’s music that is inextricably tied to American patriotism, both at […]