FLORENCE - The WC Handy Music Festival takes place July 18-28 with over a hundred musical and art venues across the Shoals.

A detailed schedule is inside this. issue. Meanwhile, this year’s headliner concert will be one to remember.


Miki Howard has one of the most recognizable voices in the music industry. Howard was born in Chicago and raised in Los Angeles. Her influences include her gospel singer parents, Clay Graham of the Pilgrim Jubilees, and Josephine Howard of the Caravans. Her family visited with Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, Billy Preston, and Fats Domino, and she was influenced by the sounds of Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson, and Billie Holiday.

Howard joined R&B singing group Side Effect at age 15, but she soon embarked on a solo career during which time she was a fixture on the R&B charts with mega hits such as, “Come Share My Love”, “Baby Be Mine”, “Ain’t Nobody like You,” “Love Under New Management”, “Imagination”, and “That’s What Love Is,” a romantic duet with partner Gerald Levert.

Howard’s jazz leanings inspired her to release an album, “Femme Fatale”, featuring her renditions of classic tracks originally performed by Dinah Washington (“This Bitter Earth”) and Billie Holiday (“Good Morning Heartache”). After her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Spike Lee movie “Malcolm X” (starring Denzel Washington), Howard recorded an entire album of Billie Holiday songs, “Miki Sings Billie”. Her album “Three Wishes”, earned a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Recording.

Howard has continued to tour and record, and recently released her Chicago style steppin’ styled new single entitled, “Fed Up!”




The Manhattans featuring Gerald Alston are an institution in the music world. The group has been churning out hit songs and memorable performances for 50 years. Their timeless classic (Let’s Just) “Kiss and Say Goodbye” is one of the most well-known songs in R&B history. Since their beginning, the Manhattans have recorded forty-five chart hits on the Billboard R&B Chart, including twelve top ten R&B hits in the U.S. They appeared on the Billboard chart for the first time in 1965. Sixteen of their songs reached the Billboard Hot 100, with two Top 10s.

Their song “Forever By Your Side” remains especially popular in Brazil thirty years after its release. The group hit again with the song “There’s No me Without You”. Their biggest song “Kiss and Say Goodbye” written by late band member, Blue Lovett, was a number one chart-topper on both the US Billboard Pop and R&B charts. It became the second single ever certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The group found further success in March 1980 with the release of “Shining Star”, which reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the R&B Chart, receiving a Grammy Award the following spring. The Handy Festival is proud to present Manhattans featuring Gerald Alston, an institution in the music world.


National recording artist and saxophonist, Dee Lucas, has a growing fan base since his beginning with the release “Remembrance” in 2004. Several well-received albums since then, including his 2018 release, “Going Left,” will serve as proof that Lucas is here to stay. His unique style and interaction with the audience leaves a lasting impression.


7pm Saturday, July 27

UNA Norton Auditorium in Florence

Doors open at 6:30pm

$40 General Admission

$100 for VIP reserved seating plus Meet & Greet Access

Tickets available at Handy Festival Headquarters, 215 E. Tuscaloosa St in Florence or on line at www.WC HandyMusicFestival.org

For more details about the W.C. Handy Music Festival, see the detailed schedule in this week’s issue. To access a printable version of the schedule, visit the newly-designed website at: www.WC HandyMusicFestival.org


The Courtin’ the Blues Parade normally held on the first Friday of the Festival in Florence is officially retiring this year and will no longer take place.

However, Great News!

The First Annual W.C. Handy Jazzin’ It Up in Tuscumbia kick off parade takes place July 20 at 6pm in downtown Tuscumbia. The parade route starts at 200 North Commons Street East, turns left on Main Street to Sixth Street to Water Street to Courthouse.

Bring Your Masquerade!

Performing will be Travis Wammack & the Snake Man Band on the Courthouse Lawn following the parade.

Crow Hollar will perform at Coldwater Commons Pocket Park off Main St. from 9-11pm. For more information, call 256-386-7200 or tuscumbiadepot@comcast.net or Bossman53@comcast.net

The Shoals Praise Choir is celebrating is 20 years of participation in the WC Handy Music Festival with an evening of praise with Babbie Mason Friday Friday, July 26 at 7pm at Woodmont Baptist Church on Darby Dr. in Florence– Doors open at 6pm and adnission is free.