I did a Valentine watercolor commission for the current owners of Mayor Crump's house here in Memphis. For music lovers, this was the Mr. Crump of W.C. Handy's song "Mr. Crump down allow..." You can see the historical marker over to the right. I love our music history here in town, and Andy Cohen had sung the song just the night before at my regular old time jam. (Which becomes slightly less old time when Andy's home from touring and rares back with occasional blues songs.)
I had such fun thinking about those connections that I walked over and painted Boss Crump's statue in Overton Park the next day. I was trying a new marker, and it got a bit muddy, but for the curious, here he is.
Here's a wider view of the statue from several years ago. This corner is a part of my regular walk.
The song was written during an election, and Handy had been asked to write a song for, instead of against, Mr. Crump. After the song came out, Boss asked him about it, and Handy told him he'd gotten a better offer from the opposition. Boss asked him how much he himself had offered Handy and then how much his opponent had, and when he heard the higher figure, he reportedly said, "You did right." And now it's his name that is immortalized in the song, so it worked out well for him in the end.
Here's the statue of W.C. Handy on Beale Street.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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