The 2020 Blues Music Awards in Memphis, TN are canceled.

Watch for updates to come on a virtual event to replace the live show.

Blues Music Awards

Blues Music Awards

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.

41st Blues Music Awards Nominees

To vote for the BMAs, you must be a current member of The Blues Foundation. You may access your ballot by logging into the member portal by clicking here.
Voting ends on Friday, February 28, 2020 at 6pm Eastern/5pm Central/3pm Pacific.

Each album category features a link to listen to nominees on Spotify. To listen on Apple Music, click here.

Billy Branch
Rick Estrin
Sugaray Rayford
Bobby Rush
Mavis Staples

Church of the Blues, Watermelon Slim
Hail to The Kings!, The Cash Box Kings
Kingfish, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp, Toronzo Cannon
Roots and Branches – The Songs of Little Walter , Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues

*Listen to the Album of the Year nominees on Spotify*

The Cash Box Kings
The Nick Moss Band
Rick Estrin and The Nightcats
Southern Avenue
Sugaray Rayford Band

“Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues”, written by Rebecca Lovell
“Lucky Guy”, written by Nick Moss
“Resentment File”, written by Rick Estrin, Joe Louis Walker, and JoJo Russo
“Time To Get Movin’”, written by Eric Corne
“The Wine Talkin’”, written by Joe Nosek, John Hahn, and Oscar Wilson

*Listen to Song of the Year nominees on Spotify*

Catfish Crawl, Catfish Keith
Confessin’ My Dues, Terry Robb
Good as Your Last Dollar, Fruteland Jackson
Solo Ride, Bruce Katz
This Guitar and Tonight, Bob Margolin

*Listen to Acoustic Blues Album nominees on Spotify*

Before Me, Ben Levin
Folie a deux, Hudspeth & Taylor
Kingfish, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Spectacular Class, Jontavious Willis
Through My Eyes, John “Blues” Boyd

*Listen to the Best Emerging Artist Album nominees on Spotify*

Killin’ It Live, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
Masterpiece, Albert Castiglia
Reckless Heart, Joanne Shaw Taylor
Survivor Blues, Walter Trout
Up and Rolling, North Mississippi Allstars

*Listen to Blues Rock Album nominees on Spotify*

Contemporary, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
Don’t Pass Me By – A Tribute to Sean Costello, Various Artists
Kingfish, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp, Toronzo Cannon
Venom & Faith, Larkin Poe

*Listen to Contemporary Blues Album nominees on Spotify*

Dog Eat Dog, Billy Price
Keep On, Southern Avenue
Real Street, Tad Robinson
Sitting on Top of the Blues, Bobby Rush
Somebody Save Me, Sugaray Rayford

*Listen to Soul Blues Album nominees on Spotify*

Church of the Blues, Watermelon Slim
Hail To The Kings!, The Cash Box Kings
Lucky Guy!, The Nick Moss Band feat. Dennis Gruenling
Roots and Branches — The Songs of Little Walter, Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues
Spectacular Class, Jontavious Willis

*Listen to Traditional Blues Album nominees on Spotify*

Eric Bibb
Guy Davis
Rhiannon Giddens
Fruteland Jackson
Doug MacLeod

Albert Castiglia
Tommy Castro
Tinsley Ellis
Eric Gales
Walter Trout

Diane Blue
Vanessa Collier
Shemekia Copeland
Samantha Fish
Janiva Magness

Toronzo Cannon
Gary Clark Jr.
Luther Dickinson
Rick Estrin
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Annika Chambers
Thornetta Davis
Bettye LaVette
Terrie Odabi
Vaneese Thomas

Billy Price
Sugaray Rayford
Tad Robinson
Curtis Salgado
Wee Willie Walker

Rory Block
Sue Foley
Mary Lane
Trudy Lynn
Teenie Tucker

Lurrie Bell
Billy Branch
John Primer
Jimmie Vaughan
Jontavious Willis

Willie J. Campbell
Patrick Rynn
Bill Stuve
Larry Taylor
Michael “Mudcat” Ward

Tony Braunagel
Cedric Burnside
June Core
Derrick D’Mar Martin
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
Laura Chavez
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Junior Watson
“Monster” Mike Welch

Billy Branch
Rick Estrin
Dennis Gruenling
Brandon Santini
Kim Wilson

Mindi Abair
Jimmy Carpenter
Vanessa Collier
Trombone Shorty
Nancy Wright

Anthony Geraci
Bruce Katz
Dave Keyes
Jim Pugh
Victor Wainwright

Shemekia Copeland
Sugaray Rayford
Curtis Salgado
Mavis Staples
Dawn Tyler Watson

2020 Blues Music Awards Category Sponsors

Blues Music Awards Process

The 41st Blues Music Awards submissions are now closed.

Any blues recording released between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019 is eligible for 2020 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 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.

If you need assistance with uploading your music, 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, 2019 at 5:00pm 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.


Category Selection

As you prepare to submit your music, please also be ready to choose the category in which you feel your music best falls. These choices include Acoustic Blues, Blues Rock, Contemporary Blues, Soul Blues, and Traditional Blues. All submissions will be considered for Album of the Year. If you feel that your recording represents your work as an emerging blues artist, you may also choose that category for consideration. Please note: for your album to be considered for Emerging Artist Album, you may have no more than two previous album releases prior to the album you wish you submit. When you submit your full album, you will also be allowed to include individual songs for consideration as Song of the Year. All music will be screened ahead of ballots going to our nominators to ensure that your music does indeed fall into the category that you have chosen and that at least 51% of your recording constitutes blues music. The Blues Foundation reserves the right to move your music into a different category based upon our definitions, as follows:

Acoustic Blues Album: 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.

Blues Rock Album: That album released to the public during the eligibility period with a majority of songs that best portrays the Rock Blues 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.

Contemporary Blues Album: 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.

Soul Blues Album: 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.

Traditional Blues Album: 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.

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 3 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 2020.

All Blues Foundation members in good standing, whose dues are current, will receive a final ballot during the voting period.  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 NOON CST on February 28, 2020 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. Announcements of the winners will be shared on The Blues Foundation website in real time, during the awards ceremony on Thursday, May 7, 2020.

2020 Blues Music Awards Categories and Definitions:

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 artist (whether solo, duo, or group) whose recordings and/or performances best represent acoustic blues 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 performer who has best represented and promoted the blues through recordings and performances during the eligibility period.

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

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 to the public during the eligibility period with a majority of songs that best portrays the Rock Blues 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 performer, whether male or female, whose recordings and/or performance best portray Blues Rock during the eligibility period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That musician whose skills on the keyboards, in performance and/or on recordings, best portray the blues 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 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 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 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 male performer whose recordings and/or performance during the eligibility period best portray Traditional Electric Blues.

2019 BMA Blue Carpet Photos Are Here!

Click below to view all of the arrival photos from the 40th Blues Music Awards!

2019 BMA Blue Carpet Photos

2019 BMA Blue Carpet Photos Are Here!

Click below to view all of the arrival photos from the 40th Blues Music Awards!

2019 BMA Blue Carpet Photos

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