William Handy's people said goodbye today to the man who put the heaviness of their hearts on sheet music and made it come out sweet and low.
No available shotlist
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: William Handy's people said goodbye today to the man who put the heaviness of their hearts on sheet music and made it come out sweet and low.
W.C.Handy, father of the blues, was seen off with song, eulogy, marching band and heavy step to join other Negro musical greats who helped develop and shape America's music.
The funeral jammed Harlem streets for blocks around the Abyasinian Baptist Church on W. 138th Street, for the famed composer who 44 years ago made the blues immortal with his masterpiece "St. Louis Blues."
When the funeral service was ended, and the silver, flower-draped casket carried out, the 35-piece Prince Hall Masonic Temple Band played "Nearer My God to Thee."
Then from the street, thousands of voices picked up the chorus as the procession wound toward Woodlawn Cemetery.
Mr Handy, 84 and blind for 15 years, died last Friday of pneumonia. His last three years had been spent in a wheelchair. Thousands of mourners inside the huge church and thousands of others crowded into the street outside heard the throbbing tones of a hymn played by a jazz trumpeter signal the stand of services which included eulogies by a Negro minister and the president of the national songwriters group of which Handy was a distinguished member.
For Harlem it was the biggest funeral since Bill (???) Robinson, the man with the twinkling feet, was buried from the ??? church nine years ago.
Many jazz band and show business figures as well as public officials attended the services before an altar ??? high with floral offerings. In the church were Marian Anderson, ??? Jack, Manhattan Borough President, and many others associated professionally with Mr Handy.
The Prince ??? the slow-moving procession for about ??? mile to the final resting place, playing ??? and ???. About 50 honorary pallbearers ???.