MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bonnie Raitt, Steve Miller, Robert Cray, Steve Cropper, Dion, and Little Steven Van Zandt all took part in The Blues Foundation’s 2020 Blues Music Awards with words of inspiration for nominees and fans alike. The awards show took place virtually on Sunday, May 3 with musical contributions from all over the globe.
But the night belonged to rising blues star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, who walked away with five statues, three for his debut album, Kingfish, as Best Emerging Artist Album, Best Contemporary Blues Album and Album of the Year, along with two performer awards as Best Contemporary Blues Male Artist and for Instrumentalist-Guitar. Nick Moss and his band featuring Dennis Gruenling were also big winners with three awards: Band of the Year; Traditional Blues Album, for Lucky Guy!; and Moss personally in the Song of the Year category for his composition “Lucky Guy.” Last year’s Soul Blues Male Artist award winner, Sugaray Rayford, claimed that prize again this year along with the coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award.
The star-studded list of presenters included Charlie Musselwhite, Warren Haynes, Fantastic Negrito, Ruthie Foster, William Bell, Beth Hart, and Keb’ Mo’, who shared the names of nominees and winners in 26 categories. Blues icons already inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame were recognized in multiple categories, with Mavis Staples claiming the Vocalist award, Bobby Rush winning in the Soul Blues Album category for his latest release Sitting on Top of the Blues, and newest inductee, Bettye LaVette, taking home the Soul Blues Female Artist award. Jimmie Vaughan, last nominated in 2008, was back at the apex again winning Traditional Blues Male Artist and the show’s host, Shemekia Copeland, snagged the Contemporary Blues Female Artist award.
But the big winners of the night were blues fans the world over who were invited to enjoy the event from their living rooms at no cost. Due to the necessity of canceling the annual May gala held in Memphis, The Blues Foundation pivoted to an online show, with nominees sending in home-recorded performances videotaped on their cell phones, shout-outs from prominent members of the music world, and unique flashbacks from prior years’ awards shows, which featured notable blues luminaries such as Dr. John, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Koko Taylor, Honeyboy Edwards, Luther Allison, Rufus Thomas, Ruth Brown, and of course the iconic B. B. King. Barbara Newman, Blues Foundation President and CEO shared, “with so much pain and suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to provide the healing power of the blues to music lovers everywhere as we shared the very best in blues from the past year with fans the world over. We were able to celebrate this iconic music from The United States to the United Kingdom, from Argentina to Australia, from Canada to Croatia and beyond”
Broadcast on both The Blues Foundation’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, the BMAs reached an audience of people from all continents, and can still be seen by those who missed the initial broadcast by visiting those same platforms at these links: FACEBOOK BMAs and YOUTUBE BMAs.
Major funding for the 41st Blues Music Awards is provided by ArtsMemphis, Tennessee Arts Commission, Memphis Tourism, Four Roses Bourbon, Visit Clarksdale, and Gibson Gives. 2020 Blues Music Awards Sponsors are BMI®, Chicago Blues Bootcamp, Folk Alliance International, Hohner Harmonicas, Landmark Bank, Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, Rum Boogie Café and Blues Hall, Newman, DeCoster, and SoundExchange with special thanks to The Memphis International Airport Authority and Ditty TV.
The full roster of 2020 Blues Music Awards nominees and winners can be found at this link and includes: