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W.C. Handy Festival kicks off in Muscle Shoals area

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This year marks the 40th annual W.C. Handy Festival.

The festival is a two-week celebration of the music and culture of the Muscle Shoals area. The event is named after Florence native William Christopher Handy, commonly known as “the father of blues.” Of the nearly 300 activities planned, the festival will feature live musical performances, a screening of the new film Aretha, and musical activities for children.

Tori Bailey is the chair of the WC Handy Music Festival. Bailey said she is excited about the headliner performances, which will feature the artists who helped create some of the areas most beloved work.  

“You have people on that stage who have been with Bob Dylan, you have people who have been on stage who have been with – who were in the studio with the Rolling Stones, with Aretha Franklin," she said. "Some of these guys who played on those shows are going to be in town."

Bailey said after the past year, this festival will be a great way for north Alabama residents to become more united. 

“When our country is so divided over social events, this is a time to put all of that aside and come together, and figure that we are more – figure it out," she said. "We are more united than we are divided. We have more in common than that we have that divides us.” 

Attendees who are not fully vaccinated are asked to wear a mask while participating in the celebrations. The festival will continue until Aug. 1. 

Will McLelland is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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