Joyce Cobb sang W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” and “Beale Street Blues” at the celebration of Handy's 147th birthday. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

The re-opening Monday of W.C. Handy Park on Beale St. was paired with the annual birthday celebration of the “Father of the Blues.”

Dr. Carlos Handy, the grandson of W. C. Handy, was among the special guests. He and Mayor Jim Strickland cut the ribbon on the revamped park that helps anchor the Beale St. Entertainment District.

Handy takes center stage!

After months pushed to the side and placed under wraps, the statue of W.C. Handy now has a prominent new ‘home’ in the Beale St. Entertainment District Park that bears his name. Elaine Turner, who runs the nearby W.C. Handy Memphis Home and Museum, took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony, which featured the music of Ekpe and Company. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Accenting the occasion was Joyce Cobb singing W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” and “Beale Street Blues.” Ekpe and Company provided the prelude and postlude music, with a special presentation by Deborah Manning Thomas.

The Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba M. Gray Jr. set the tone with his invocation.

The annual birth salute to Handy unfolded on the porch of his home, which forms the basis for the W.C. Handy Home and Museum operated by Elaine Turner and Heritage Tours.