Will Handy (Nat 'King' Cole) grows up in Memphis with his preacher father and his Aunt Hagar (Pearl Bailey). His gifts only in church, but he can't stay away from the music of the streets and workers. After he writes a theme song for a local politician, Gogo (Eartha Kitt), a speakeasy singer, convinces Will to be her accompanist. Will is estranged from his father for many years while he writes and publishes many blues songs. At last the family is reunited when Gogo brings them to New York to see Will's music played by a symphony orchestra.