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Evolution Of A Song: 'St. Louis Blues'

Sheet music for W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." (Wikimedia Commons)closemore
Sheet music for W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." (Wikimedia Commons)

W.C. Handy, known as the "Father of the Blues," didn't exactly invent the blues, as his nickname might imply. Instead, this savvy African-American songwriter and publisher tapped into the soul of his people and took their rustic sound — a combination of work songs, field hollers and spirituals — and shared it with the rest of the world. He popularized The Blues.

"St. Louis Blues" was his best-known tune. It made Handy millions in royalties, inspired multiple motion pictures and was recorded by America's top jazz artists. Nine decades since its original release, the song continues to be reinvented in every imaginable setting, from classical music orchestras to rock 'n' roll acts. Here are a few "jazzy" versions.

Copyright NPR 2016.

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