Logo for 42nd Annual Blues Music Awards
Logo for 42nd Annual Blues Music Awards
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What are the BMAs?

This event brings together Blues performers, industry representatives, and fans from all over the world to celebrate the best in Blues recordings and performances from the previous year. The BMAs are generally recognized as the highest honor given to blues musicians and are awarded by vote of Blues Foundation members.

What are the BMAs?

This event brings together Blues performers, industry representatives, and fans from all over the world to celebrate the best in Blues recordings and performances from the previous year. The BMAs are generally recognized as the highest honor given to blues musicians and are awarded by vote of Blues Foundation members.

42nd Blues Music Awards Winners & Nominees

Download and stream the music of the BMA nominees:

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Sponsored by B.B. King’s Blues Club

Shemekia Copeland 
Rick Estrin 
John Németh 
Sugaray Rayford 
Lil’ Ed Williams 

*Listen to the Album of the Year Nominees on Spotify

Sponsored by Stony Plain Records

100 Years of Blues, Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite 
Rawer Than RawBobby Rush 
Rise UpRonnie Earl & The Broadcasters 
Too Far From the BarSugar Ray & The Bluetones featuring Little Charlie 
Uncivil War, Shemekia Copeland

Sponsored by BlueCross Blue Shield of Tennessee

Anthony Geraci & The Boston Blues Allstars 
John Németh & The Blue Dreamers 
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats 
Southern Avenue 
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones 

*Listen to the Song of the Year Nominees on Spotify

“All My Dues Are Paid” – written by Kathy Murray, Rick Estrin, Frank Bey, Kid Andersen (performed by Frank Bey) 
“All Out of Tears” – written by Walter Trout, Marie Trout, and Teeny Tucker (performed by Walter Trout) 
“Blues Comin’ On” – written by Dion DiMucci and Mike Aquilina (performed by Dion Feat. Joe Bonamassa) 
“Is It Over” – written by Don Bryant and Scott Bomar (performed by Don Bryant) 
“Uncivil War” – written by John Hahn and Will Kimbrough (performed by Shemekia Copeland) 

*Listen to the Best Emerging Artist Album Nominees on Spotify

Sponsored by Ted Reed Productions

Hard Workin‘ Man, Andrew Alli 
Harlem, King Solomon Hicks 
Here I Come, Jose Ramirez 
High Risk Low Reward, Ryan Perry 
Peace In Pieces, Betty Fox Band

*Listen to the Acoustic Blues Album Nominees on Spotify

Sponsored by Endless Blues Records

Dustin Arbuckle & Matt Woods, Dustin Arbuckle & Matt Woods 
Prove IOn MeRory Block 
Rawer Than Raw, Bobby Rush 
Three Pints of GinRichard Ray Farrell 
Traveling Man – LiveWatermelon Slim 

*Listen to the Blues Rock Album Nominees on Spotify

Ain’t Done YetSavoy Brown 
Ice Cream In HellTinsley Ellis 
Mike Zito and Friends – Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Tribute to Chuck BerryMike Zito 
Mississippi SuitcasePeter Parcek 
Ordinary MadnessWalter Trout

*Listen to the Contemporary Blues Album Nominees on Spotify

Cry Out, Kat Riggins 
My Blues Pathway, Kirk Fletcher 
Self-Made ManLarkin Poe 
Stronger Than StrongJohn Németh 
Uncivil War, Shemekia Copeland

*Listen to the Soul Blues Album Nominees on Spotify

All My Dues Are Paid, Frank Bey 
Found! One Soul Singer, Sonny Green 
That’s What I Heard, Robert Cray Band 
Where Have All The Soul Men Gone, Johnny Rawls 
You Make Me Feel, Don Bryant 

*Listen to the Traditional Blues Album Nominees on Spotify

100 Years of BluesElvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite 
Blueswoman, Nora Jean Wallace 
Every Day of Your Life, Jimmy Johnson 
Rise Up, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters 
Too Far From the Bar, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones featuring Little Charlie

Dom Flemons 
Catfish Keith 
Harrison Kennedy 
Doug MacLeod 
Keb‘ Mo’

Tinsley Ellis 
Reverend Peyton 
Ana Popovic 
Mike Zito

Shemekia Copeland 
Samantha Fish 
Sue Foley 
Ruthie Foster 
Shaun Murphy

Selwyn Birchwood 
Chris Cain 
Rick Estrin 
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram 
J.P. Soars 

Annika Chambers 
Thornetta Davis 
Bettye LaVette 
Dorothy Moore 
Terrie Odabi 

William Bell 
Don Bryant 
John Németh 
Johnny Rawls 
Curtis Salgado

Sponsored by Alligator Records

Rory Block 
Rhiannon Giddens 
Diunna Greenleaf 
Trudy Lynn 
Teeny Tucker

Billy Branch 
Sugar Ray Norcia 
John Primer 
Jontavious Willis 
Kim Wilson

Willie J. Campbell 
Larry Fulcher 
Danielle Nicole 
Patrick Rynn 
Michael “Mudcat” Ward 

Tony Braunagel 
June Core 
Derrick D’Mar Martin 
Bernard Purdie 
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith 

Christoffer “Kid” Andersen 
Chris Cain 
Laura Chavez 
Kirk Fletcher 
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram 

Sponsored by Hohner Harmonicas 

Billy Branch 
Rick Estrin 
Dennis Gruenling 
Jason Ricci 
Kim Wilson 

Mindi Abair 
Jimmy Carpenter 
Doug James 
Mark Kaz Kazanoff 
Nancy Wright 

Mike Finnigan 
Anthony Geraci 
Johnny Iguana 
Bruce Katz 
Jim Pugh 

Thornetta Davis 
Ruthie Foster 
John Németh 
Sugar Ray Norcia 
Sugaray Rayford 

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS FOR THE
2021 VIRTUAL BLUES MUSIC AWARDS

Blues Music Awards Process

The 43rd Blues Music Awards submission process opens July 1.

The submission process for the 2022 Blues Music Awards will open on July 1, 2021.

Any blues recording released between November 1, 2020 and October 31, 2021 is eligible for 2022 Blues Music Award consideration.

The submission process for Blues Music Award consideration begins with artists and record companies submitting entries in the following ways:

  • The Blues Foundation accepts CDs through the year and logs them based on their release dates. All recordings sent directly to The Blues Foundation will be put on a master list for future communications regarding our submission process.
  • The Blues Foundation opens the formal submission process on or about July 1st of each year. The Blues Foundation has moved to a digital platform for recording submissions. Your complete album or minimum 6-song EP music must be uploaded as a WAV file with album artwork uploaded as either JPEG or PDF files. We will no longer accept hard copy CDs for the purposes of BMA submission review.

This year, we have added the ability to submit a single for Song of the Year consideration that has been professionally released to the public between November 1, 2019 – October 31, 2020, and is not part of a larger EP or full album release. To submit a single for Song of the Year, you must contact Joe Whitmer at [email protected] directly. Singles may not be directly uploaded to the online submission platform without a special code.
Submission fees and deadlines:

  • The submission process is now closed.

The submission process officially closes on October 15, 2020.
You must upload your music and artwork and complete payment for your submission transaction no later than OCTOBER 15TH to be considered for a Blues Music Award nomination. All music must be uploaded as a WAV file with album artwork uploaded as a JPEG or PDF file. If you need assistance with uploading your music, contact Joe Whitmer at [email protected] will be available to help you and walk you through the process. The submission process officially closes on October 15, 2020 at 8:00am CST. You must upload your music and artwork and complete payment for your submission transaction no later than OCTOBER 15 to be considered for a Blues Music Award.

The Blues Foundation enlists a group of approximately 100 blues nominators who work extensively in all areas of the blues industry. This includes individuals with blues expertise as producers, engineers, radio DJs, journalists, academics, club owners, promoters and others with a deep knowledge of blues music. The identity of the nominators is not made public in order to protect them from outside influences. Nominators must recuse themselves from any categories in which they have a conflict of interest.

The nominators work through two rounds in order to come up with between four and six final nominees in each category. During the first round, each nominator distributes 6 total points to their top choices within each category, with no more than 2 total points given to any single entry. The top entries in each category move into Round 2. The Blues Foundation does not publicize which recordings and/or artists move to Round 2. The nominators then repeat the point distribution for each category in a second round ballot and those artists and recordings receiving the most total points in each category become the final Nominees for Blues Music Awards.

Final nominees will be announced in early January 2021.

All Blues Foundation members in good standing, whose dues are current, may access one online ballot via the Membership portal at blues.org. Membership Login credentials and password required to gain access to the ballot. Any member who renews his or her membership or joins as a new member during the voting period will also receive a ballot. Voting will open in late January and will officially close at 11:59pm CT on February 28, 2022 at which point no additional ballots will be accepted.
Results of members’ voting are not known until the Blues Music Awards presentation ceremony when names of the winners are revealed to the public.

Winners will be announced during the 42nd Blues Music Awards on June 6, 2021.

2021 Blues Music Awards Categories and Definitions:

That performer who has best represented and promoted the blues through recordings and performances during the eligibility period.

The best blues album in any style released to the public during the eligibility period.
(May be an album nominated in another category)

That group, recording and/or performing as a unit, which best exemplifies blues ensemble playing during the eligibility period.

This award is presented to the songwriter for a first-ever recording of a song initially released to the public during the eligibility period which best portrays the blues by means of theme, structure, and overall feeling.

That blues recording that was released during the eligibility period for an act that has not received a prior Blues Music Award or GRAMMY® award nomination. The age of the artist is not of significance, but this award is intended for an artist who is up and coming within the blues/music scene and is at the “jumping off” point of his or her career. An artist’s album may not be considered in this category if that artist has already had a professional release of more than three prior albums or EPs. (Albums submitted for this category may also be submitted in other appropriate categories.)

That album released during the eligibility period that best represents acoustic blues, in which non-electric/amplified instruments are prominently featured on at least 75% of the tracks.

That album released to the public during the eligibility period with a majority of songs that best portrays the Blues Rock genre, that hybrid that combines elements of blues with elements of rock, generally employing heavy amplification and driving rhythms, and which may employ non-traditional blues song structures.

That album released to the public during the eligibility period that best portrays blues in which elements other than those traditionally found in blues are part of the mix, e.g., different rhythms, different harmonies, more elaborate production values, etc., and which may offer a different approach to sounds, lyrics, instrumentation, arrangements, etc.

That album released to the public during the eligibility period that best portrays Southern Soul Blues, a type of soul music that emerged from the Southern United States. The music originates from a combination of styles, including blues (both 12 bar and jump) with a strong gospel influence.

That album released to the public during the eligibility period with a majority of songs that best portrays Traditional Electric Blues employing traditional blues song structures, harmonic structures and rhythms, and which may also employ instruments such as electric guitar, piano, organ, amplified harmonica, electric bass and drums. This category includes subgenres such as jump/swing blues and Chicago blues.

That performer, whether male or female, whose recordings and/or performance during the eligibility period best represent Acoustic Blues.

That performer, whether male or female, whose recordings and/or performance during the eligibility period best portray Blues Rock.

That female performer whose recordings and/or performances during the eligibility period best portray Contemporary Blues.

That male performer whose recordings and/or performances during the eligibility period best portray Contemporary Blues.

That female performer whose recordings and/or performance during the eligibility period best portray Southern Soul Blues.

That male performer whose recordings and/or performance during the eligibility period best portray Southern Soul Blues.

That female performer whose recordings and/or performance during the eligibility period best portray Traditional Electric Blues.

That male performer whose recordings and/or performance during the eligibility period best portray Traditional Electric Blues.

That musician whose skills on the bass in performance and/or on recordings during the eligibility period best portray the blues.

That musician whose skills on the drums in performance and/or on recordings during the eligibility period best portray the blues.

That musician whose skills on the guitar in performance and/or on recordings during the eligibility period best portray the blues.

That musician whose skills on the harmonica in performance and/or on recordings during the eligibility period best portray the blues.

That individual whose skills on any horn (including brass and woodwind instruments) in performance and/or on recordings during the eligibility period best portray the blues.

That musician whose skills on the keyboards in performance and/or on recordings during the eligibility period best portray the blues.

That musician whose vocal skills in performance and/or on recordings during the eligibility period best portray the blues. This category is open to all vocalists on recordings and stage as well as to vocalists who also play an instrument.

That blues album or collection released during the eligibility period, with all recordings at least five years or older, which serves to preserve historical blues recording and/or performance. In addition to recording and performance content, liner notes and general packaging of the content will be taken into consideration. Submissions for this category are reviewed by a special committee of blues historians, journalists, and ethnomusicologists. This category is not included as part of the nominations announcement or the BMA ballot.

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