“W. C. Handy Evening at the Roxy” takes stage Thursday night
By Susie Hovater Malone
The 42nd annual W. C. Handy Music Festival kicked off July 20 and concludes Sun. July 30. William Christopher (W.C.) Handy is known internationally as the “Father of the Blues.” He was born in Florence, Ala., and for more than forty years, the people of his hometown and surrounding areas have honored his legacy and accomplishments annually with this festival.
Twenty-two years ago, the Franklin County Arts and Humanities Council got involved in this festival through the encouragement of Edsel Holden and Nancy Gonce who worked with organizing the Music Preservation Society that sponsors the W. C. Handy Music Festival. Mayor John Blackwell and I met with them, and through their assistance, the first “W. C. Handy Evening at the Roxy” became a reality.
Some of these earlier shows at the Roxy included the UNA Jazz Band/Little Big Band with Edsel Holden featured as lead singer; Microwave Dave; John McAndrew; Kent DaChaine; Billy Dean; and others. For the last several years the entertainment has highlighted local talents performing as “The Great Pretenders.” The Historic Roxy restoration provides a venue for locals to perform as well as provide entertainment which attracts tourists to our area and enhances our economy.
This year the “W. C. Handy Evening at the Roxy” will be held on Thursday, July 27th at 7 p.m. The Prelude will be presented by the Still Here Gospel Group from 6:30-7:00 p.m. This group consists of Rev. Johnnie Smith; Brothers Bryant Bonds; William Nelson; Frankie Hubbard; Eric Goodloe; Willie Buchanan; Joel Franks; and Larry Freeman. The group is dedicating their performance to the memory of Rev. William Freeman, Bro. Jack Freeman and Bro. Wash Bates.
The Great Pretenders entertainers featured are local and from neighboring areas. Some of these performers are: Terry Benton-Johnny Cash; Aleya Lane-Dolly Parton; Kinfolk Trio-Michael & Sera Rice, Kassidy McCorkle as Fleetwood Mac; Caroline Sparks-Etta James; Kandi Parker-Lainey Wilson; Lucas Shepherd-George Jones; Chris Williams-Hank Williams, Jr.; Garrett Booth- “The Beast” from the movie classic; Buford Parker-Ray Price; Jeff Allen-Elvis; Kellie Hargett-Lauren Daigle; Mazie Vandiver-Reba McEntire; Keylee Mayfield-Charity Gayle;Mary Lindley-Dolly Parton; Sydney Medley; April Cothrum-Taylor Swift; and many more.
The Franklin County Arts and Humanities Council appreciate our local businesses for supporting this event for many years and they will be acknowledged at the show on the program and the movie screen. This will be a fun night of outstanding entertainment that you will not want to miss. So come out to support your favorite entertainer and the Historic Roxy Theatre! Tickets may be purchased at the ticket booth and are $10; children under 6 are free.