New marker to honor Father of Blues
by Paisley Boston
Dec 03, 2013 | 2160 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bolivar County Courthouse in Cleveland is set to host the unveiling of the new W.C. Handy Mississippi Blues Trail Marker, titled "Enlightenment of W.C. Handy, " at 2 p.m. Thursday.

"We are excited to unveil our 14th Blues Trail marker in Bolivar County. It was really important for us to choose W.C. Handy because he has been such an influential part of music,” said Kelli Cotton of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber.

“We are expecting a great turn out of people all across the state and several from around the country. It is going to be a great event to celebrate the blues and some of the important things that Bolivar County has to offer.”

Cotton said there is already a historical marker at the courthouse for Handy but it is not on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

"It is going to be a great addition to our offerings here in Bolivar County and it will hopefully drive some people to our great downtown area as well," she added.

According to Cotton, a documentary film crew will be on location and they are elated to visit Cleveland.

"We are excited to have the film crew here to give a good spotlight on Bolivar County. Now that we are getting the Grammy Museum, it just seems fitting that Bolivar County becomes one of the epicenters of music in Mississippi," she said.

According to County Administrator Will Hooker, members of the board of supervisors are also overjoyed about the marker unveiling.

"W.C. Handy has made a huge impact on history and a marker for him is well deserved for many reasons — one being the historical significance attached to the state Blues Trail,” said Hooker. “The Blues Trail serves as a tourism magnet that brings people into our community and it is also a part of the history in the Delta.”

Handy was a blues composer and musician, widely known as the "Father of the Blues.”

About 1905 while playing a dance in Cleveland on the courthouse lawn, Handy was asked to play a type of music he was not familiar with. A local band instead played a piece of music with a monotonous rhythm.

In his autobiography, he said he remember this melody when writing “St. Louis Blues.”

An event is also set to take place at 8 p.m. Thursday at Po' Monkeys.

"We are going to have a lot of folks from out of town so we definitely want to show them how great our blues scene is," said Cotton.