Seitu’s World: John T. Handy P’s Blues Reverie At Convent Avenue Baptist Church, Harlem

December 18, 2023

By HWM and photographs by Seitu Oronde

On the evening of Saturday, December 16th, 2023, the historic Convent Avenue Baptist Church resonated with the timeless blues melodies in a concert honoring W. C. Handy.

Revered as the father of blues music. Seitu Oronde, an esteemed Harlem photojournalist, skillfully captured the essence of the event, which featured various selections celebrating the musical legacy of W. C. Handy.

Born on November 16th, 1873, and transitioning on March 28th, 1958, W. C. Handy’s enduring influence on blues music was commemorated through heartfelt performances. The concert, hosted by the Harlem Opera Theater group, showcased the remarkable talents of artists who breathed new life into Handy’s timeless compositions.

The powerful and healing energy of the evening was palpable, thanks to the exceptional performances by artists such as Edwina Meyers Lynch, the board president, Terry Lee Cook, a bass-baritone, Jay Saint Flana, a soprano, and Professor Gregory Hopkins, the artistic director of Harlem Opera, who skillfully played the piano.


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As the church reverberated with the soulful renditions of Handy’s music, it became clear that his musical legacy still lives on, touching the hearts of those in attendance. Seitu Oronde’s photographic lens captured not just the performances but also the emotional resonance and cultural significance of this tribute to W. C. Handy, reaffirming the enduring power of blues music in Harlem’s rich cultural tapestry.

Click here for more photographs by Seitu Oronde.

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